Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy sec-gen to the Prime Minister, also touted a mobile application in the works for 24-hour reporting under the TM30 form system, which has been a problem in recent months. Kobsak said both changes are designed to attract more visitors and accommodate those already living in the kingdom.
“We made the decision last Friday. Within two to three months, life will be much easier [for foreign tourists and expats],” Kobsak said.
He spoke at a gala dinner to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Elite Plus Magazine at a hotel in Bangkok on Tuesday evening, where audience members included ambassadors from ten or so countries.
Explaining the government’s decision, Kobsak said arrival and departure forms for tourists, known as TM6 forms, have led to storage problems. The government expects a total of 20 million visitors to Thailand this year.
“[The immigration police] have to have a huge warehouse to store these papers,” Kobsak said, adding that the police rarely look at the information in the forms, which are only stored “just in case.”
He also said the government and the immigration police agreed last Friday to streamline other procedures. Foreigners will be able to report their whereabouts with just “four clicks” on a smartphone to fulfill regulations that require them to report to immigration authorities every 90 days.
But the cherry on top seems to the revelation that the police are developing a mobile phone application for the infamous TM30 form, which requires foreign residents and their Thai landlords to file a report to the police every time the former spends a night outside their registered province.
Tourists are generally exempted from the rule, as the forms are filed by their hotels and accommodation hosts.
Deputy immigration commander Nattapon Sawaengkit confirmed the move on Wednesday when reached for comment, but assigned another officer to explain the details.
The officer, who declined to give his name, gave little information other than hinting that QR codes will likely be used.
“The apps are not finished yet. QR codes will likely be used but it’s not concrete yet. It will likely be on a smartphone,” the officer said.
Harsher enforcement of TM30 forms has recently driven expats in Thailand to air their grievances on social media. They say the 40-year-old regulation is outdated and should be amended or scrapped entirely.
The European Association for Business and Commerce, which represents European firms and businesses in Thailand, also urged reforms to TM30 in a statement to Kobsak yesterday.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday night, Kobsak said the law will still remain on the books, but pledged to end foreigners’ discontent with the form. He also acknowledged the government should do better in attracting foreign investment and manpower.