BANGKOK, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Thailand will launch the first phase of e-visa service later this year and will open its e-visa service fully in 2018, said the kingdom's Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul on Tuesday in a press conference.
The minister said the process of opening e-visa service takes time as it involved different ministries.
E-visa service is expected to facilitate international travelers' entry to the country, which welcomed some 32.59 million foreign tourists in 2016.
Chinese are the biggest visitors to Thailand, accounting for about 30 percent of all foreign tourists, but Chinese tourists still need paper visa and wait in long queues in customs to entry the country.
E-visa will be a major topic during World Travel & Tourism Global Summit 2017 which is going be held in Thailand's capital Bangkok, said David Scowsill, President and CEO of World Travel & Tourism Council, during the press conference about the event.
Scowsill said many international travelers still need paper visa right now and so his council is encouraging governments around the world to open e-visa service to facilitate travel.
The Global Summit will take place in Bangkok from April 26 to April 27, which global leaders from travel and tourism private and public sectors will come to the Thai capital to explore the theme of "Transforming our World" and how the sector's contribution to sustainable development can be maximized.
According to the press conference, there will be discussions on how to balance security with travel facilitation, the growing internationalization of Chinese tourism during the summit.
"Hosting the global summit reflects Thai government's commitment to growing Travel & Tourism in a sustainable manner and Thailand's role as the sector's leader in ASEAN," said Kobkarn, adding that Thailand will be a platform for global leaders from the sector to explore opportunities here in order to put ASEAN onto the "world travel map."
She also said the plan of a "Schengen-style" visa for CLMVT countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar Thailand, Vietnam and a such visa for all ASEAN members is still under discussion.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, it is the global authority on the economic and social contribution of Travel & Tourism. The council works with governments and international institutions to promote sustainable growth and has global summit which brings together delegates to discuss opportunities, challenges and issues facing the industry.