Thailand scraps offensive entry rule after Vietnam outcry

By N.Tran Tam, Thanh Nien News

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A signboard at the Arayaprathet border gate between Thailand and Cambodia has been removed following public outcry. PHOTO: V.L.P
Thai authorities officially canceled an entry regulation that drew outrage in Vietnam after explaining that the rule was put in place to curb the inflow of illegal laborers.
In a letter to the Vietnamese Consular Department, the Thai Embassy in Hanoi said Thailand stopped requiring Vietnamese tourists to submit to photographs with either US$700 or 20,000 Baht before being allowed through the Aranyaprathet Border Gate between Cambodia and Thailand, the Ho Chi Minh City branch of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said on Thursday.
The law drew such wide outcry from Vietnamese tourists and tour operators that the department sent a dispatch to the Thai Embassy, asking that the rule be scrapped.
The TAT office also removed a signboard that warned tourists from Vietnam (and 10 other countries) that they were subject to questioning, news website Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon (Saigon Times) reported.
The Thai embassy explained that, in the year 2000, the country's Ministry of Interior ordered foreign tourists to prove that they had at least 20,000 Baht in cash before being allowed to enter Thailand.
Thai immigration authorities began ordering tourists to pose with the money to prevent groups of travelers from passing around money, according to the Thai embassy statement.
Thai immigration officers used the photos as evidence that the money belonged to tourists following accusations that some had received bribes to grant entry.
The embassy said the Thai immigration authority applied the photo rule to people whom they suspected of attempting to work illegally in Thailand.
Last year 2,812 Vietnamese people were arrested in Thailand, including some 803 people who were found working without permits, according to Thai statistics.
Vietnamese citizens can travel to Thailand without visas and remain there for 30 days when entering by air and 15 days when entering by land.
It is estimated that some 500,000 Vietnamese people travel to Thailand every year.

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