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PHUKET: Officials are tightening security checks at Phuket immigration in preparation for the high season, in accordance with orders issued by the Immigration Commissioner yesterday.

After meeting with officials to discuss safety initiatives, Lt Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn visited the immigration offices in Phuket Town and at Phuket International Airport to review safety procedures and ensure readiness for the high season, particularly given the slash in visa fees announced late last month (story here).

“The cabinet’s decision to reduce the visa fee from 2,000 to 1,000 baht between December and February will increase the number of tourists visiting Thailand and Phuket. Therefore, we have to be ready to handle that influx,” said Gen Nathathorn.

“A high number of tourists is good for the economy, but also quite risky. Our main duty is to ensure their safety and security, so the top priority is to prevent dangerous people from entering the country. We will also keep a strict eye on blacklisted and criminal elements,” he added.

Gen Nathathorn added that in the future, he expected the government to approve a proposed biometric security system to be installed at immigration.

“As far as the speed of service is concerned, we will add more officers and equipment as a long-term solution. In the short term, officers should check fight status to see which periods are the busiest during the day. This will help them manage their time and schedules better, and we will have enough personnel present at all times, without overworking them,” said Gen Nathathorn.

He also said it was important to ensure transparency during the entire process.

“I want all officers to strictly follow legal processes. Be accurate, but work fast in order to provide convenience to visitors,” he added.

— Kongleaphy Keam