These newly-opened fast-track lanes will be staffed with workers who are proficient in Mandarin in order to better serve Chinese visitors. According to the Bangkok Post, Surachate Hakparn, deputy chief of the Tourist Police Bureau, emphasized that visitors from China are essential for Thailand’s tourism industry with more than 10 million Chinese tourists visiting the country last year, accounting for one-third of Thailand’s foreign visitors.
However, it’s important to note that these lanes are reportedly only for the use of visitors from mainland China. Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport told Apple Daily that those travelers holding Hong Kong or Taiwan passports will not able to use the VIP counters and must go through the normal airport lanes. Presumably, the same thing goes for those with Macau passports.
Netizens from Hong Kong and Taiwan have actually applauded the move. “I don’t have to worry about people cutting in line or getting knocked over by suitcases anymore,” one web user celebrated. “I’ve never been more happy about not being able to use a VIP line,” commented another.
The sinking of a tourist boat in stormy seas off the coast of the resort island of Phuket last month claimed the lives of 47 Chinese tourists. In the aftermath of that disaster, thousands of Chinese travelers canceled their Phuket hotel reservations.
In addition to the VIP lanes, the Thai government is also looking into providing multiple-entry visas for Chinese visitors to make their trips to the country even more convenient.
[Image via Tourist Police Bureau]