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Thailand extends visa fee waivers to boost tourism as growth slows

Thailand extends visa fee waivers to boost tourism as growth slows
FILE PHOTO: People have fun on a beach during sunset at Ko Kut island in Trat Province, Thailand October 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva -
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JORGE SILVA(Reuters)
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BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand will extend until April next year a measure that waives fees for visas on arrival issued to tourists from 18 countries, as it looks to stimulate growth in tourism to spur a slowing economy, the prime minister said on Tuesday.

The waivers are part of a $10-billion (8.3 billion pounds) stimulus package to boost growth, including a debt moratorium for farmers, loans for smaller businesses, and more money for low-income earners.

“The cabinet approved the extension of fee waivers until April 2020,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters, adding that the scheme would cover Lunar New Year and the Thai new year, Songkran.

Foreign tourist receipts make up about 12% of Southeast Asia’s second largest economy, but arrivals increased just 0.89% in June, with visitors from China, the biggest source, declining 7.1% from a year earlier.

The fee of 2,000 baht ($65) is to be waived unil next year for travellers from 18 countries, including China and India.

But the cabinet rejected a proposal for visa-free entry for visitors from China and India, because of security concerns, government spokesman Narumon Pinyosinwat said.

(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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