Thailand seeks visa on arrival from India

Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Tuesday said India should grant visa on arrival to Thai tourists to boost two-way travel.

New Delhi: Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit
Vejjajiva on Tuesday said India should grant visa on arrival to
Thai tourists to boost two-way travel.

"We hope that we will be able to get visa on arrival
which is something that will boost the number of visitors
here," Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said to a news agency
after his meeting with industry leaders.

He said that though his country went through a difficult
period last year because of political unrest, Thailand
received a record number of 16 million foreign visitors,
including eight lakh Indians.

"It seems that tourism is fully recovered, it is actually
continuing to grow at a very healthy pace. What we actually
need now is to do further facilitation," he said.

Vejjajiva said that he had raised the issue of seeking
visa on arrival for Thais with India`s Foreign Minister S M
Krishna and would also take up the same with Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh.

Last year, about 50,000 Thai citizens came to India
mainly to visit Budhists sites.

In his meeting with members of leading business chambers
- Ficci, Assocham and CII - it was emphasised that there
should be direct flights between popular destinations of the
two countries.

Inviting investments from Indian companies, the Thai
Prime Minister said that his country has shortage of skilled
manpower and would seek cooperation in this area with India.

"India is a workplace to some of those skills - language
skills, IT skills that will help us to fill that gap...," he
said.

Asked what holds the two countries to sign the
comprehensive free trade agreement, expanding from the limited
pact, Vijajjiva said that he expects the FTA to be inked some
time later this year.

With Thailand due for elections in the next few months,
its Parliament will be able to give its approval to the FTA
only in the second half of this year.

Thailand has witnessed anti-government violent protest in
the recent past. However, the situation has improved and its
economy is growing by a healthy 8 percent.

Meanwhile, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma
said that India is committed to concluding negotiations with
Thailand for a free trade pact by this year-end, a step which
will help in doubling bilateral trade of USD 6 billion by
2014.

PTI