Thailand to scrap offensive tourist rule after Vietnamese outcry

By Truong Son, Thanh Nien News

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A signboard at the Aranyaprathet border gate between Thailand and Cambodia
Thai immigration authorities will stop a discriminative practice that requires tourists from a number of countries, including Vietnam, to present cash and pose for an offensive photo before allowing them to enter the country from Cambodia.
According to the Vietnamese foreign ministry, the decision was made after Vietnamese tourists complained that they were discriminated against by Thai immigrant officers at the Aranyaprathet Border Gate between Cambodia and Thailand.
The Vietnamese embassy in Thailand on Thursday worked with the Immigration Office of Sakaeo Province, which manages the border gate, to clarify the claim.
Thai authorities admitted that some of the staff at Aranyaprathet Border Gate were impolite, and a signboard which listed a number of countries, including Vietnam, whose citizens may be questioned before entering Thailand is offensive. 
The office said it will order the border gate to stop asking tourists to present cash and pose for a photo; instead, tourists are allowed to present credit cards. The signboard will be removed.
Local media early this week reported that many Vietnamese tourists said they were maltreated by Thai customs officers when entering that country through the Poipet or Aranyaprathet border gate connecting Thailand and Cambodia.

They said Thai officers asked them to present return tickets, hotel booking confirmation, and 20,000 baths or US$700 in cash and pose with the required cash for a photo when they enter Thailand by land.
Vietnamese travel representatives have quoted Thai customs officers as saying that the regulation came into place because many Vietnamese entered Thailand as tourists to commit crimes and work illegally.
However, disgruntled Vietnamese tourists decried the rule as “offensive” and “discriminating”.
Many Vietnamese people, tour operators and tourism experts threatened to boycott Thai tours if the practice were still in place. 
Vietnamese citizens can travel to Thailand without visas and remain there for 30 days when entering by air and 15 days by land.
It is estimated that some 500,000 Vietnamese people travel to Thailand every year.

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