BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): The Transport Ministry is taking steps to ensure that international airports throughout the country are ready for an expected influx of foreign tourists due to the government’s free visa policy that takes effect on Monday (Sept 25).
Visitors from China and Kazakhstan will be allowed to enter Thailand without a visa for five months – until Feb 29 – under the pilot project.
Transport Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit on Friday presided over a meeting with executives of Airports of Thailand (AOT) to discuss measures to facilitate foreign arrivals in the coming weeks, which coincide with China’s National Day holidays on Oct 1.
The ministry estimated that during the free-visa period, average incoming flights from China will increase from 72 to 96 per day, and average Chinese arrivals will increase from 9,680 to 18,656 persons per day.
Suriya ordered the AOT and related agencies to prepare personnel and equipment at three key international airports – Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and Phuket – to enhance facilitation of tourists through the immigration process.
He also ordered that a single command centre be established at each airport to monitor operations and coordinate with related agencies and airport services.
AOT president Kerati Kijmanawat told the meeting that he had ordered the Immigration Bureau to assign officials to all 138 passport checking booths of Suvarnabhumi Airport during rush hours, as well as make sure that all 16 automatic check-in booths are operational.
These should enable the airport to process up to 7,140 arrivals per hour, with an average time of passport processing of one minute for each passenger, he said.
The AOT has also asked airlines to assign staff to all 302 check-in booths, and will use public announcements to urge passengers to use the automatic systems to speed up the process.
As for the outgoing booths, all 69 of them will also be manned by immigration officials during rush hours on top of the 16 automatic channels.
To prevent crowding, airport officials have been instructed to direct the crowd to each of the three luggage checking zones evenly. With the help of Automatic Return Tray System, the airport expects to complete the checking process of each passenger in not more than seven minutes.
Operations at Don Mueang International Airport will also follow this pattern, Kerati added.
Suriya instructed all relevant officials to provide fast and efficient services to foreign arrivals to ensure their safety, comfort and convenience in Thailand. All staffers were told to employ interpersonal skills and adhere to the laws regarding service fees.