BANGKOK, 21 August 2017: The first automated passport checkpoints opened at the weekend at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport in a bid to reduce long queues at immigration checkpoints.
The automated channels are now open to Singaporean travellers in the first phase of a project to introduce automated checks for foreign passport holders.
Thai nationals have been using automated checkpoints for more than five years, but the at least one official is on duty to assist travellers who are not confident with the automated process.
More nationalities will be added later this year, but it the list will depend on security considerations as well as the importance of travel markets for Thailand. They are likely to be based on profiling of nationalities for potential terrorist and security risks as well as considering those who are likely to seek employment in Thailand illegally.
Officials said the automated passport check channel was in line with the country’s Thailand 4.0 initiatives to embrace technology.
There have been calls to apply the brakes on runaway tourism arrivals that are likely to reach 35 million this year..
To cut the immigration and security processing time for passengers at airports there are plans to add around 300 more immigration officials, extend checkpoint space and add more terminals. A new terminal building is under construction at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Once the automated passport checks are working smoothly at Suvarnabhumi the service will be extended to Don Mueang Airport, Phuket International Airport and U-Tapao International Airport.