Jurin cranks open southern border gates as Malay tourists, trade surge
The gates at Thailand’s southern border are opening wider as Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit seeks to restore trade and tourism with Malaysia to pre-Covid-19 levels.
Narathiwat's Sungai Kolok checkpoint has deployed more immigration officials from Thursday to Saturday to speed entry for Malaysian tourists, said Jurin as he visited the border province on Monday.
“We have also asked Malaysia to extend opening hours on their side of the checkpoint to 5am to 9pm daily [from 7am to 7pm] to cope with the heavier flow of travellers,” he said.
The Commerce and Transport ministries would also join hands to streamline screening for tour buses and freight trucks entering Narathiwat.
Thailand exported 1.23 billion baht of goods via Sungai Kolok in the first nine months of 2022. The ministry is confident the tally for the whole year will exceed the 1.5 billion baht exported via the checkpoint last year.
Jurin said he also visited Tak Bai checkpoint on Monday morning and found that one of its traffic lanes was blocked, preventing Malaysian tourists from visiting Thai border markets. He asked Narathiwat’s governor to open the lane as soon as possible.
He also urged the province to restore the Tak Bai car ferry service, which was suspended during Covid-19, to full capacity by year-end.
Suspension of the service had caused trade volume to drop to around 1 million baht per year from the pre-Covid level of around 1 billion baht, said Jurin.