Silhouetted against the backdrop of the bustling Sadao checkpoint in Songkhla, a lone immigration officer stands, signifying the gateway to an adventure in Thailand. Nestled in the southern border province of Songkhla, Sadao’s bustling checkpoint has just received uplifting news.
The Thai cabinet, in its relentless pursuit of enhancing tourism, has endorsed a strategy to provisionally suspend the necessity for non-Thai tourists to complete the Tor Mor 6 (TM 6) immigration forms. This temporary halt, commencing from the first day of November, simplifies the tourist entry process through the immigration checkpoint at Sadao for an initial period of three months. Kharom Polpornklang, the pivotal deputy government spokesman, shared this exhilarating news on a fine Tuesday.
This suspension of the TM 6 requirement, he explained, is a calculated endeavor aimed at easing the visits of Malaysian visitors to Thailand, thus, painting the country as a more attractive tourist destination.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) provided quantifiable data that confirmed the need for this step. Escalating waiting times at the Sadao immigration checkpoint, especially during the influx of tourists in festivals and holiday seasons, have been a long-standing concern. Tourists, at times, spent in excess of two hours in immigration queues, highlighting a roadblock to smooth travel.
This announcement comes in the light of recent data, stating that from January to September of this year, Malaysians held the record for the most numerous foreign tourists in Thailand. A staggering 3.1 million Malaysians set foot on Thai soil during this period, injecting 52 billion baht into the economy. On average, every Malaysian visitor enriched the Thai economy by around 16,588 baht in their stay. The revelation of these figures underscores the importance for Thailand to attract and provide superior service to this visitor segment.
Moreover, statistics from the Immigration Bureau shed light on a fascinating facet. Around 100,000 Malaysian tourists crossed into Thailand via the Sadao immigration checkpoint each month. This figure affirmed the appeal of Thailand for Malaysians, and their aspirations to explore additional Thai provinces. Mr. Kharom vented their aspirations to the spokesmen’s assembly.
“The elimination of TM 6 forms at Sadao immigration is not just a paper-culling exercise,” Kharom elucidated. “It serves more strategic purposes. It expedites immigration procedures, bolsters Thailand’s global image, minimizes bottlenecks and congregation at the checkpoint, and ultimately, it’s a boon of convenience for high-potential tourists.”
In Mr Kharom’s words, this radical tweak promises to “curate a more travel-friendly landscape, spark a surge in income for other areas, and aid in the brisk circulation of spending in the economy”. The vision to uplift Thai tourism seems to have found a beacon of positive change at the Sadao checkpoint in Songkhla.