Gov’t Cancels Order Cancelling Visa-on-Arrivals

Deputy immigration chief Cherngron Rimphadee greets tourists at Suvarnabhumi Airport on April 11, 2019.

BANGKOK — The government on Thursday withdrew its suspension of visa-on-arrivals less than 24 hours after they issued the order, citing the need for more research.

In an urgent meeting attended by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, health minister Anutin Charnvirakul, and foreign affairs minister Don Pramudwinai, the Cabinet agreed that the travel restriction affecting 22 countries and territories must be held off until they can make more informed decision next week.

The U-turn came after government officials realized they cannot unilaterally cancel visa-on-arrivals and free-visa travels without consulting relevant parties.

“Bilateral agreements between each country have to be thoroughly examined.” Chatri Anjananan, director of the Department of Consular Affairs, said after the meeting.
“We still have to study the procedures first so we cannot conclude whether it will really be cancelled.”

Deputy immigration chief Cherngron Rimphadee said immigration police will have to wait for official orders to halt the visa on arrivals “before taking any action.”

In a phone interview, Col. Cherngron said visa on arrivals are still being handed out at the airports as of today.

The latest flip-flop in border policies prompted Future Forward Party spokeswoman Pannika Wanich to lash out at the government’s handling of the coronavirus responses.

“All the problem’s we’ve had, from the Thai workers in quarantine from at-risk countries to contradicting information on masks, show that the government is illegitimate and inefficient in dealing with citizens’ problems,” Pannika said.

She added, “They are ill-equipped to handle the crisis. This could have been a time for them to show their skills.”