Phuket, one of Thailand's most popular tourist destinations, has taken significant steps to streamline its immigration policies. Last Tuesday (December 26), Pol Lt-General Itthiphon Itthisanronnachai, Commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, announced a new initiative that will allow foreigners residing in Phuket on one of 12 different visa types to apply for visa extensions through an online portal.
This announcement is part of a wider effort led by Lieutenant General Itthiphon to improve the Immigration Bureau's efficiency in facilitating the arrival of tourists for the New Year celebrations. By conducting operational inspections of immigration officers stationed at Phuket International Airport, he has ensured that all preparations are in place to handle the expected surge of tourists.
The core of the initiative is reflected in the motto "Convenient, Fast, Secure, Impressive". The aim is to simplify the immigration process, make it more efficient and ensure easy access. The government has prioritized Phuket, a major tourist area in the upper southern region of Thailand, by implementing a visa exemption policy for tourists from certain countries such as China and India. The aim of these measures is to boost the region's tourism industry.
The impact of this policy has already been significant. In December, the majority of tourists arriving at Phuket Airport were Russian nationals, with an average of 3,600 arrivals per day. This was closely followed by tourists from China, the UK, and India with daily averages of around 1,500, 780 and 720 arrivals respectively. The total number of incoming tourists through the airport is estimated to reach 350,000 this month.
In addition to facilitating the arrival of tourists, the Immigration Department's primary responsibility is to prevent illegal groups and criminals from entering the region. The new online visa extension application system, known as 'E-Extension', is designed to simplify the immigration process for the 12 visa types. The system allows tourists to upload documents and schedule appointments online before receiving a physical stamp to extend their visas.
Currently, you can apply for an extension at Immigration Office 1 in Bangkok, as well as Immigration Offices in Chonburi, Phuket and Chiang Mai. However, the Phuket Immigration website has yet to officially announce details of the E-Extension service for foreigners in Phuket.
Itthiphon will meet with local immigration officials to discuss various issues and gather feedback and suggestions. Launched in November last year as a trial service for foreigners living in Bangkok, the E-Extension service is provided in cooperation with VFS GLOBAL, the official partner of the British government for processing passport applications of British citizens. Currently, the Immigration Bureau has added an "Apply for Thailand Visa Extension Electronically" notice to its main national website.
This innovative approach to visa extension is a promising step forward in simplifying the immigration process and providing a more efficient experience for visitors and foreigners living in the area.
Source: The Taiger