The Thai Embassy clarified yesterday that visa fees are waived for Singaporeans when they apply for any category of visa for Thailand, including when entering the country for the third time or more by land.
The Straits Times had reported on Wednesday that fewer Singaporeans are heading to Hat Yai under a new visa rule that kicked in on Dec 31.
Under the new rule, visitors who arrive by land via bus or rail have to obtain a visa in advance if they are visiting for the third time or more in a calendar year. This affects visitors from countries that are entitled to a 30-day visa exemption, including Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. The regulation does not affect tourists who arrive in Thailand by plane or ship.
As a result, Tigerair flights to Hat Yai have seen a "slight increase in demand year on year... in recent months", a Tigerair spokesman told The Straits Times on Wednesday.
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Bus operators that ST spoke to on Tuesday had said many Singaporeans were deterred by the $50 visa fee.
However, the Thai Embassy yesterday said the fee is waived for Singaporeans, based on an existing agreement between the two countries that is "symbolic of longstanding and close relations between Thailand and Singapore".
It added that the new visa regulation is intended to prevent foreigners from utilising the 30-day exemption period to work continuously.
To help applicants save time when obtaining the visa, the embassy also said it introduced in February an electronic visa application.
Applicants can submit their documents online for preliminary inspection and will later be notified to submit their passports to the embassy. They will get back their passports and receive their visas the next business day, said the embassy.