Thailand delays visa changes for Taiwanese travelers amid outcry - Focus Taiwan

Thailand delays visa changes for Taiwanese travelers amid outcry

CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 5 (CNA) The Thailand Trade and Economic Office (TTEO) announced Thursday that it will delay changes to the country's visa rules until March 2020 following an outcry against the new rules that would require Taiwanese applicants to provide evidence of their finances.

On Nov. 14, the TTEO announced that from Nov. 30 it would stop accepting walk-in visa applications and would institute a multi-step process in which applicants would first have to complete their visa applications and payments online, and then schedule an appointment to submit their passport in person at the Thai representative office.

The new e-visa scheme would also require applicants to provide bank details for the last three months, as proof that they could cover their travel expenses.

While the TTEO defended the changes Monday, stating that the country has similar rules in place for other countries, the move was criticized by Taiwanese legislators, who pointed out that visitors to Taiwan from Thailand enjoy visa-free privileges.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, said it had conveyed the public's dissatisfaction to the Thai government.

In a Facebook post Thursday, the TTEO appeared to bend to the pressure, announcing that it was suspending the implementation of the new policy until March 1 next year.

According to the statement, the new e-visa scheme was halted as of Thursday, although applicants will still be allowed to complete pending applications.

On Friday, the statement continued, the TTEO will process only pending e-visa applications, before reinstating the original application process Dec. 9.

During the intervening period leading up to March 1, the representative office said, it will hold training sessions for Taiwanese travel agencies so that they can register as official visa agents under the new policy.

(By Elaine Hou and Matthew Mazzetta)

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