Thai Ambassador assures of quicker issue of visas

A Monitor Report 16 May, 2017  |    -      +
Dhaka : Panpimon Suwannapongse, Ambassador of Thailand to Bangladesh, has assured members of the travel trade of a quicker process in issuing Thai visas.

Panpimon Suwannapongse gave the assurance during Tourism Authority of Thailand's (TAT's) "Amazing Thailand Product Presentation and Networking with Stakeholders" at The Westin on April 30.

If the visa is not available after five working days, the Thai Ambassador asked the visa applicant or the travel agent to inform her through e-mail.

Suwannapongse's response came following a series of complaints by individuals, travel agents and tour operators who had been facing serious problems in obtaining Thai visas.

The travel trade professionals present on the occasion said that in spite of preliminary checking of passports, documents - initially by VFS - and submission of the required visa fee, a huge number of visa seekers were being denied visa without assigning any reason for rejection.

They said that, in some cases, passports were being held by the embassy for eight to ten weeks. The Ambassador was informed that despite various efforts, no explanation was provided nor did the travel agents receive any response.

She was told that the travel agents and tour operators faced all the more trouble with group visas. In the case of groups, some over 100 plus members, they usually purchase air tickets, book hotel rooms and arrange tour packages in Thailand, but if the whole group or a major portion of the group, do not get visa, they not only incur a huge monetary loss but also lose face with their high profile clients.

Suwannapongse spoke about the limitations of staff who have to issue over 500 passport, a day. Sometimes they have to work till late hours of the night.

Tour operators and travel agents also complained to the Ambassador of the discourteous behaviour of some VFS staff. As some of them do not have the required knowledge, the visa seekers, tour operators or travel agents have to face hassles.

They demanded abolition of VFS and suggested the acceptance of visa applications by nominated travel agencies, which would be better and work more smoothly, they opined.

The Ambassador patiently listened to the issues raised and assured of taking requisite steps.

Earlier, Isra Stapanaseth, Director of TAT (New Delhi), gave a brief presentation on various products and services of TAT.

In his PowerPoint presentation, Isra Stapanaseth spoke about the top destinations of Thailand besides Bangkok, like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pattaya, Rayong, Ko Chang, Hua Hin, Ko Samui, Krabi and Phuket.

Besides family attractions, shopping, health and wellness, he also highlighted Thailand as a Muslim-friendly destination, free mobile app for Muslim travellers, Halal food, as well as new routes like Bangkok-Pattaya-Hua Hin; Bangkok-Pattaya-Rayong-Trat; Bangkok-Chang Mai-Chiang Rai; and Bangkok-Phuket-Khao Lak-Krabi.

Isra Stapanaseth said Thailand received more than one lakh travellers from Bangladesh in 2016. He expected more travellers this year as the sixth airline -US-Bangla Airlines - has started operating to Bangkok on May 3, raising the number of flights between the two countries to 36, offering 6,808 Business and Economy Class seats a week.

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