Gen Nathathorn landed yesterday morning (Dec 1). On hand to welcome him at at the Phuket Immigration Office in Phuket Town were Immigration Division 6 Chief Maj Gen Jessada Yaisuin, Immmigration Division 6 Deputy Chief Col Nattapakin Kwanchaiyapruk, Phuket Immigration Chief Col Kantawat Pongsathabodi and the contingent of officers stationed
Gen Nathathorn warned the officers that he expected the move to waive single-entry tourist visa fees and to half the fee for visas on arrival (see story here) to boost the number of tourist arrivals greatly.
“Officers must be ready to serve a high volume of tourists and provide conveniences for them while they are in Phuket,” Gen Nathathorn said.
“We also will ask the foreign volunteers who already assist Immigration officers to help out by assisting tourists with filing out immigration forms or to help with translation for us,” he added.
While immigration officers are to process applications as quickly and effectively as possible, Gen Nathathorn noted that security would remain their top priority.
“We are trying to find a solution to solve the issue of people using fake passports or using other people’s passports because they have similar facial features.
“Most of the time we cannot detect such small differences between facial features visually, but need technology or expert help. In the near future, the central government will grant the budget for us to invest in a biometric system to scan fingerprints, facial features, pupils to prevent such fraud,” he said.
However, regarding the ongoing issue of ,diabolical delays at the Immigration arrivals hall at Phuket Airport, Gen Nathathorn had no immediate solution.
“We will increase the number of officers to accommodate the number of tourists after checking the number of flights,” Gen Nathathorn said
“We cannot have full staff 24 hours because some flights do not have a lot of passengers. If a lot of passengers are due to arrive then more staff will be put on duty.
“We are trying to avoid long lines and inconvenience to tourists, but at the same time that we must check their documents thoroughly,” he said.