#BANGKOK, 25 January 2017:
Thailand is exploring the world of e-Visas with the introduction phase scheduled to take place by the end of this year.
Minster of Tourism and Sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, confirmed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently evaluating the project.
She was commenting on ways to ease visa formalities and make travel to Thailand more convenient during a press conference, Tuesday, convened to announce the hosting of the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit, 26 to 27 April, in the Thai capital.
“We are working on the introduction of an e-Visa… the first phase should be completed by end of this year… and the full phase will be completed in 2018.”
She said the project was with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although ultimately visas are in the domain of the Immigration Bureau.
But introducing an e-Visa would decrease visa fee revenue at Thai consulates worldwide, a matter that will need agreement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Her comments followed statements made by the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), president, David Scowsil, who strongly recommended nations speed up the migration from paper to electronic visas.
“The WTTC focus is on electronic visas, freedom and the right to travel,” he said. “Visas are required by 58% of the world’s 1.2 billion population and they still need a paper visa…they are required to queue and pay for a visa it’s a crazy out-dated system.”
He said the WTTC’s three core objectives were to encourage freedom of travel, encourage policies for growth and encourage sustainable development for tomorrow.
Quoting the example of airlines he said it took them three years to migrate from paper to electronic tickets.
“We are persuading governments to move fast on this, electronic visas offer more security and a country can use the funds earned from e-Visa processing to support branding.”
He cited the example of the US, using e-Visa fees to fund Brand USA.
“China should create an e-Visa. Tourist arrivals to China have remained static at 55 million for five years,” he said. “If they created an e-Visa they could also use the visas to fund a Brand China campaign similar to what the US has done.”
Thailand is hosting WTTC’s first global summit a first for Southeast Asia. Last year, the annual event that attracts around 900 CEO’s tourism policy makers and government ministers, was hosted in Dallas, US.
Former prime minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, will address the global summit in Bangkok, while high profile CEO, Tony Fernandes, who founded the AirAsia group, will talk on airline connectivity.
The summit will be held at the Bangkok Convention Centre in CentralWorld, in downtown Bangkok.
Official airlines for the event are Thai Airways International, Emirates and AirAsia Group.