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Vietnam demands Thailand scrap discriminating tourist rule after public outcry

The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked that Thai authorities scrap a new entry regulation that requires foreign tourists to present cash and pose for an offensive photo before allowing them  to cross a border gate connecting Thailand and Cambodia.
Since early this week the Vietnamese media have reported that a number of local tourists said they were maltreated by Thai customs officers when entering that country through the Poipet or Arayaprathet border gate connecting Thailand and Cambodia.
They accused the officers of being “imperious” and “rude” when the latter asked the former  to present return tickets, documents confirming their hotel booking, and 20,000 baths or US$700 in cash and pose with the required cash for an offensive photo when they enter Thailand by land.
The disgruntled Vietnamese tourists decried the rule as “offensive” and “discriminating”.
Many Vietnamese people, tour operators and tourism experts said if the “unreasonable” rule is not canceled, they will boycott Thai tours.
Previously some Thai agencies’ representatives said the new rule, which was applied to the citizens of certain countries, was aimed to tackle the fact that many foreigners entered Thailand as tourists to commit crimes and work illegally.
But a dispatch sent Wednesday by the Vietnamese foreign ministry’s Consular Department to the Thai embassy in Hanoi stated that Thai agencies failed to inform their Vietnamese counterparts of the new rule.
Moreover, Vietnam was the only Southeast Asian country subject to such regulation and that was against the spirit of cooperation among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and between the two countries in particular.
Vietnamese citizens can travel to Thailand without visas and remain there for 30 days when entering by air and 15 days by land.
It is estimated that some 500,000 Vietnamese people travel to Thailand every year.
Thanh Nien

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