Speaking with The Phuket News this morning, Gen Pharnu said, “We have been very lenient about this. I’ve had many comments about [our excessive leniency]."
Several factors have come together to kill off the tourist visa run.
Two Iranian men boarded that flight using passports that had been stolen or went missing in Phuket a couple of years before. Hence a tightening-up on passports was inevitable.
But another major concern is the number of foreigners working illegally, the General said.
“Lots of nationalities come to Thailand on tourist visas but they come to work. I really want them to do the right thing, not try to dodge around the law and evade taxes."
He said that Russians, South Koreans and Vietnamese in particular are in the spotlight. “Immigration is keeping an eye on them.” That said, other nationalities will not escape notice.
“Out-in visa runs will still be possible but they have to show a credible tourism plan and give details of their accommodation to the officials.
“Thirty days should be enough for a normal tourist. If they really want to travel around the country for more than 30 days, then they must show us a plausible plan. If officers are suspicious, then they will carry out checks.
"If we believe their purpose in coming to Thailand is not what they say it is, then we will order them to leave and they will be blacklisted. They will not be able to return to Thailand, ever."
He also confirmed that electronic fingerprinting of people arriving in Thailand will be introduced. “Yes, this is coming soon. We are now waiting for the budget to be approved. It is expensive so we will start by introducing it at international airports first.”
He said he did not agree with complaints that the effective end to visa hops would affect tourism. “I don't think so. Tourists will still come to Thailand for holidays, but not to start businesses or get jobs.”
Gen Pharnu added, “If you are coming here not as a tourist, then please get the correct visa. Do it properly.”