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Thailand mulling visa waiver for Taiwanese

TAIPEI -- Thailand is hoping to restore the interest of Taiwanese travelers by introducing incentives that may include a visa waiver program, a Thai tourism official said Tuesday in Taipei.

Eager to lure back tourists, the Thai government the same day announced the end of a nearly two-month state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas as deadly political protests subsided, said Srisuda Wanapinyosak, executive director of East Asia Regions at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

“We want to restore tourists' confidence as soon as possible through programs that could make travel to Thailand easier,” she said at a trade show in Taipei.

Some of the initiatives may include a more effective travel booking system and a visa waiver program that would make Thai travel more appealing to Taiwanese, Wanapinyosak said.

Currently, Taiwanese tourists are required to obtain visitors' visas to travel to Thailand.

According to the TAT, Thailand recorded 26.73 million internationals visitors in 2013, an annual growth of 19.6 percent.

Of that number, Taiwanese tourists accounted for 507,616, an increase of 65.48 percent from the previous year, the TAT said.

The TAT said it hopes to attract over 28 million international tourists to Thailand this year, including 510,000 from Taiwan, which will generate an estimated 1.3 trillion Baht (US$41 billion) in foreign exchange revenue, a 13 percent annual growth, according to Taiwan's Tourism Bureau.

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