The Immigration Bureau is gearing up for an expected surge in visitors arriving in Thailand for the Chinese New Year, particularly from February 8 to 14, with daily arrivals anticipated to hit 80,000. The preparation follows an incident on January 24 at Suvarnabhumi Airport, where a technical glitch at the automatic biometrics immigration kiosks led to extended queues, as officers were required to manually check travel documents.
In response to the upcoming holiday rush, Immigration Bureau Chief Pol Maj Gen Ittipol Ittisarnronnachai convened an urgent meeting to outline safety and efficiency measures at airports. Plans include the deployment of additional immigration officers to manage passenger flow during peak times, aiming to reduce wait times in the airport's immigration area to under 30 minutes.
Efforts to prevent a recurrence of system failures at automatic passport kiosks have been a priority, with assurances from the system's contractor that the issues leading to the January breakdown will not reoccur. Technical staff responsible for the biometric system's installation have identified and rectified the fault in the networking equipment, ensuring the system's operational reliability, even in offline mode.
The Immigration Bureau is also enhancing its preparedness by having officials from the Immigration Operation Center on standby at the kiosks to address any potential system malfunctions. Pol Maj Gen Ittipol said he will personally inspect the readiness of immigration systems and staff at Phuket and Chiang Mai airports, which are also expected to see a high volume of tourists during the Chinese New Year celebrations.