Plans for special SIM cards for tourists have finally been scrapped by Thailand’s national telecom regulator after facing strong opposition from the government, which says the idea would do more harm than good.
The plan also drew heavy criticism at the first public hearing from participants who said it could lead to a potential threat to travellers’ privacy.
The Thai Cabinet has approved to extend the current free visa incentives for foreign tourists for another six months.
Under the measures, visa fees will be waived at Thai embassies and consulates until August 2017, while the visa on arrival fee will continue to be 1,000 baht.
On Tuesday, government spokesperson Sansern Kaewkamnerd said that waiving visa fees from December to February 28 had resulted in a 12% increase in foreign tourist arrivals.
The move to waive visa fees was first introduced on December 1, 2016 after a sudden decrease in arrivals from China following last year’s crackdown on zero dollar tours.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has come up with an idea to open military facilities to draw tourists from China as part of a campaign to show-off Thailand’s new look, TAT’s Srisuda Wanapinyosak said.
Mrs Srisuda, TAT deputy governor for Asia and the Pacific marketing, said the TAT had asked the navy to open its facilities such as warships, firing ranges and training camps for Chinese free independent tourists (FIT) to visit. About 60-70% of tourists visiting Thailand are in the FIT category while 30-40% are in tour groups.