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Thai Visa’s while under Covid

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  • #31
    Chinese tourists to start travelling around Thailand after completing quarantine

    The first group of 33 Chinese tourists, arriving in Thailand on Special Tourist Visas (STV) from Shanghai, have completed their mandatory 14 days in quarantine, at a hotel in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok, and are about to leave to tour the country.

    An executive of the Royal Benja Hotel, where the Chinese group had been quarantined, said that he spoke with several of the visitors, who all told him they were not bored during isolation, because they could use a gym and enjoy the hotel’s grounds after they completed the first round of COVID-19 tests.

    The hotel also arranged for a Loy Krathong event, held at the hotel’s pool, for tourists who passed the second test, said the executive.

    Issued with STVs, the guests can stay in Thailand for up to 90 days and can extend their visas twice by 90 days per extension.

    Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yutthasak Supasorn said that some of the tourists in this group wish to visit undisclosed seaside locations, adding that he could not say where because that is confidential.

    He said that many foreign tourists have shown interest in visiting Thailand, but the Thai government has limited arrivals to only 1,200 per month, until the end of this year.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • #32
      Thai Travel Agents Association urges quarantine-free tourism

      Travels bubbles said to be crucial for industry's survival

      Setting up travel bubbles between low-risk countries without quarantine requirements is crucial to help the tourism industry, as there is pent-up demand for outbound trips, says the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA).

      Suthiphong Pheunphiphop, the TTAA president, said if there is no rapid escalation of cases in Thailand or overseas, tourism sentiment could gradually improve by next June, starting with tourists from Southeast Asia, especially if entry without a mandatory quarantine is allowed.

      He said this first step would be a reciprocal arrangement, allowing Thai outbound travel operators to start recouping this market by filling up departure flights.

      "Requiring quarantines is an obstacle to tourism. If people can travel without concerns about quarantine, both in destination and origin countries, more trips will be made, even without a vaccine available," said Mr Suthiphong.

      While some expect a coronavirus vaccine by the middle of next year at the earliest, there is pent-up demand among travellers who are ready to adapt to safety measures and protect themselves while overseas, he said.

      People have adjusted their way of living during the outbreak, while a desire to travel after being locked in their countries for more than a year will help the outbound market be revived from the middle of next year, said Mr Suthiphong.

      He said an indicator of outbound demand will be the Olympic Games in Tokyo, planned for July and August next year. Japan remains a favourite destination among Thai tourists.

      There's a large portion of Thais who still want to witness world-famous sporting events, if they take place, said Mr Suthiphong.

      All these expectations depend on travel bubbles between Thailand and partner countries. Tour operators have to follow strict rules from the Public Health and Foreign ministries as the situation is uncertain and most countries prefer their citizens to support local tourism, helping to revive the economy.

      Half of the 800 outbound tour operators that are TTAA members are temporarily closed.

      "The association has to encourage members to shift focus to the domestic market in order to survive until international entries can restart next year," said Mr Suthiphong.

      Outbound operators also hope to feature their services and earn more revenue through the domestic travel subsidy by offering premium domestic tour packages to locals used to spending more in other countries.

      The packages are estimated to average 10,000 baht for three-day trips to destinations that require air travel and 30,000 baht for seven-day trips.

      According to the TTAA, there were 11 million outbound Thai tourists who spent 430 billion baht abroad in 2019.:

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • #33

        Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world and is well known for its diverse culture, buddhist temples, jaw dropping beaches and epic never ending parties.

        Just like most countries around the world, Thailand's tourism industry was decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While Thailand was able to control the virus within its own borders, it has come at a steep cost.

        Now Thailand is beginning to cautiously reopen for tourism and start a long recovery process for its tourism sector.

        Here are all the latest COVID-19 entry requirements for Thailand and everything you need to know. We'll keep this article updated weekly with any official announcements from the Thai government.

        Is Thailand Open For Tourism During COVID-19?

        Thailand has reopened for select international tourists and travelers under strict entry requirements.

        Countries Permitted To Visit Thailand
        Countries allowed depend on the type of Visa you are applying for:

        TR Visa – Tourist Visa 60 Days: All countries may apply

        STV Long Stay Visa – Special Tourist Visa 90 Days: Low risk countries may apply

        Low risk countries:

        El Salvador
        Hong Kong
        Ivory Coast
        New Zealand
        Saudi Arabia

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • #34
          No long stay-tourists infected yet: Health Ministry

          So far, no long-stay tourists have been found infected with Covid-19, though health authorities have urged Thais to keep their guard up after a symptomless man tested positive in Krabi last week.

          The rare local case was an Indian restaurant worker aged 37 and living in Muang district.

          He was found to be infected during a routine work-permit test at Krabi Hospital last Wednesday.

          He is thought to have contracted the disease abroad before arriving in Thailand three months ago and remaining asymptomatic. Tests on 19 close contacts of the infected man have come back negative, while 32 contacts are in quarantine.

          Dr Sopon Iamsirithaworn, chief of the Communicable Diseases Division, praised Krabi locals for not panicking and urged them to report to a medical facility if they experienced a fever, cough, respiratory symptoms, or lost their sense of smell.

          Thailand is gradually opening its tourism industry via Special Tourist Visas (STV) offered to residents of countries at low risk of Covid19 transmission, such as China, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

          The Public Health Ministry reports that so far, all tests on long-stay STV tourists in alternative state quarantine hotels have come back negative.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • #35
            Quarantine debate next week

            A proposal to reduce the mandatory quarantine period for foreign tourists from 14 to 10 days will be put forward to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) for consideration next week amid Public Health Ministry advice that the infection is usually detected during the first 10 days.

            Speaking at the seminar entitled "Smart Living with Covid-19" to address concerns about the government's policy to open up the country, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Friday that details of the proposed 10-day quarantine were being prepared for submission to the CCSA.

            Mr Anutin said he was confident that a 10-day quarantine combined with strict disease-control measures would be effective in preventing the spread of Covid-19 but the CCSA would have the final say.

            The ministry stresses that the shorter quarantine should only be applied to visitors from low-risk countries.

            Addressing public concerns about the government's easing of lockdown, Mr Anutin said this had been approved after assessments of the situation and based on ensuring public health.

            He said public health officials were now better equipped to fight the spread of the disease after the early days of the pandemic in terms of experience, knowledge, manpower, medical supplies and facilities, including Covid-19 testing labs and beds.

            The ministry has designed disease-control measures to handle the easing of lockdown, assembled hundreds of disease investigation teams and stockpiled more than 500,000 tablets of the antiviral drug Favipiravir.

            "The ministry has experience and expertise and has plans to handle the next phases of easing of the lockdown," said Mr Anutin.

            Opas Kankawinphong, acting director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said the proposed quarantine reduction would not compromise public health.

            Most infections were usually detected during the first 10 days, said the doctor, and most infections detected after that were asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, which had a low risk of transmission.

            Dr Opas also said social-distancing measures, personal hygiene and a tracking system would also be implemented to prevent the coronavirus spreading.: -

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • #36
              Government to introduce “Thailand Plus” application for foreign tourists

              The Thai government is to introduce a new application, called “Thailand Plus”, to enable the tracing of foreign tourists in the country.

              Mr. Sompote Arhunai, CEO of the Energy Absolute Company, which developed the “Mor Chana” application, said that the Thailand Plus app functions like Mor Chana, but it will link to information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, regarding the certificate of entry (COE) of the arriving foreign tourists, for screening and tracing, from arrival in Thailand, for the prevention of COVID-19 spread.

              Similar to a GPS system, he said that officials will know the whereabouts of the tourists during their stay in Thailand, in case any of them are found to have contracted the contagion, so that action can be taken immediately to prevent its spread.

              He disclosed that, so far, as many as 600,000 Thais have downloaded the Mor Chana application, as he urged more Thai people to do so as a preventive measure, assuring that their privacy will not be compromised by the system.

              The Tourism Authority of Thailand has introduced a conditional special tourist visa (STV), for long-stay tourists from low-risk countries, in order to revive the tourism industry, which has been badly battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

              Some of the requirements to be met by such tourists include a 14-day mandatory hotel or hospital based quarantine period and health insurance of 400,000 baht minimum.:

              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • #37
                First trickle of tourists in October as curbs ease

                A total of 1,201 foreign tourists were reported in October after a ban in April aimed at averting coronavirus outbreaks, as the country gradually opens up to a select number of visitors to help its struggling, tourism-reliant economy.

                The economy contracted 6.4% in the third quarter from a year earlier after the second quarter's 12.1% slump as most virus restrictions were eased, but an absence of tourists is limiting the recovery.

                The 1,201 foreign visitors in October is a fraction of the 3.07 million arrivals in the same month last year.

                Tourism ministry data showed the latest visitors included 471 from China, 231 from neighbouring Cambodia, 178 from Middle East countries and 116 from Europe. All of them travelled on special 90-day visas that require two-week quarantine.

                The entry restrictions have helped keep its coronavirus case tally less than 4,000.

                It plans to restart talks with China on a travel bubble to boost an economy the government predicts will shrink by 6% this year.

                But the country has yet to agree any such arrangements and previous plans were abandoned in August after coronavirus cases in Asia increased.

                New outbreaks have seen several other travel bubbles between Asia-Pacific countries aborted or fail to take off, including between New Zealand and Australia, and Hong Kong and Singapore.

                In January-October, the number of foreign tourists in Thailand dropped 79.5% to 6.69 million. There were zero tourists recorded in April-September.

                The state planning agency has forecast 6.7 million foreign tourists this year after last year's revised record 39.9 million visitors who spent 1.91 trillion baht ($63 billion), or about 11.3% of gross domestic product.

                It predicts only 5 million foreign visitors in 2021.:

                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • #38
                  Quarantine stays can now be booked on Agoda

                  The Public Health Ministry is joining forces with online hotel booking platform Agoda to help Thais and foreigners book their stay at an alternative state quarantine facility.

                  The deal was launched on Friday at the Mövenpick Hotel BDMS Wellness Resort Bangkok by Deputy Public Health Minister Dr Satit Pitutecha. Also present were Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong, director general of the Department of Health Service Support, and John Brown, Agoda’s chief executive officer.

                  Under the new link up, people wanting to return to Thailand can conveniently look for and book quarantine packages that are suitable to their needs.

                  This cuts down on time required for booking a hotel room under the Public Health Ministry’s regulations.

                  The platform works in 39 languages, with 24/7 support and customer care provided in 21 tongues, including English and Chinese, as well as a quick and easy payment process.

                  Dr Tares said 113 ASQ-certified hotels are now able to generate more than Bt1.2 billion in revenue for the country. The number of hotels providing alternative quarantine stays has expanded from 37 to 100, and are expected to attract at least 30,000 tourists and generate more than Bt1 billion in revenue.

                  Thanking the ministry for its forward thinking, Brown said this collaboration will inevitably contribute to other projects in the future and also respond to the needs of people.:

                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • #39
                    Quarantine in Thailand: The good, the bad and the boring

                    At eight in the morning, the doorbell rings and a familiar voice announces that my breakfast is ready. Like every morning in the past nine days, I open the door to find no one in sight — just a plastic container of food on a small table.

                    The same contact-free procedure is repeated for lunch at 12pm and dinner at 5pm. This is a “normal” day in the life of Thailand’s state-sponsored 14-day coronavirus quarantine, compulsory upon entering from Germany.

                    A few weeks ago, I — like many other Thai nationals in Germany — was looking forward to finally returning home. But first I had to register with the Thai embassy due to the pandemic.

                    When my Thai Airways International flights were cancelled for the second time in mid-September, I decided to register for a chartered repatriation flight. I waited anxiously for weeks for a response from the Thai consulate in Frankfurt.

                    Thailand gave priority to travellers with urgent needs to fly to the Southeast Asian country. Longing to see family and friends after nearly two years abroad was not considered a priority by the Thai government — no matter what my mother might think.

                    Fortunately, on Nov 1, Thailand decided both Thai and non-Thai nationals could register online for Certificate of Entry (COE). I rushed to book a spot on a chartered plane.

                    Only 200 passengers per flight — and only Thai nationals — are allowed to undergo state-sponsored quarantine free of charge.

                    The other option would have been to fly back with a different airline and pay for an alternative quarantine privately — the cheapest government-approved accommodation being €1,000 (36,000 baht).

                    Thai nationals, interestingly, are not required to show a negative coronavirus test upon arrival

                    Frankfurt to Bangkok

                    Arriving at Frankfurt airport on the long-awaited day of my flight, the once-bustling international air travel hub was almost empty and it only took 15 minutes to pass through customs.

                    My journey back home with THAI amid a global pandemic was a strangely enjoyable but simultaneously sobering experience. Some seats were empty and passengers were not allowed to roam around freely except to visit the lavatories.

                    The cabin crew had swapped their iconic purple uniforms for full-body personal protective equipment (PPE). In fact, since boarding the plane in Germany, I have only come into contact with a handful of people not covered head to toe in PPE.

                    A staff member sits under the arrivals information board at Suvarnabhumi airport on Oct 12. (Reuters photo)

                    Upon landing at Suvarnabhumi airport, all passengers had their temperatures measured. All of our luggage was sprayed with disinfectant before it was loaded onto the fleet of buses.

                    Before the pandemic, Suvarnabhumi was one of Asia’s main travel hubs. Now, it seems the once bustling airport is a thing of the past.

                    Where you end up in quarantine in Thailand is like playing roulette.

                    Nobody had any idea which city we would end up until we had actually landed at Suvarnabhumi. But I was lucky. I ended up in a boutique five-star hotel in Pattaya, a coastal resort city about two hours’ drive south of Bangkok. The only catch — I am not allowed to leave the room.

                    En route to Pattaya, I saw nothing but mostly empty streets and closed bars in the normally buzzing town famous for its nightlife which draws millions of tourists each year. Thailand closed its borders in March.

                    I knew that the pandemic had severely battered my country’s once-prosperous tourism industry, but seeing the hedonistic getaway of Pattaya deserted with my own eyes, really drove home the reality of life in post-Covid Thailand.

                    Daily life in quarantine

                    Upon arrival at the hotel, staff dressed in PPE greeted us with a pump of alcoholic gel, asked us routine health questions and once more controlled our body temperatures.

                    I was then quickly assigned an ID card and a room, along with a handout of the hotel’s quarantine rules, and a dinner in a sealed plastic bag — the first of many such “Covid-safe” meals. Bringing in any cooked food outside from the hotel is strictly forbidden.

                    The room is modern, spacious and equipped with the usual amenities one might expect from a five-star hotel: large flat-screen TV, shower with rainfall showerhead and a separate bathtub, two comfortable beds with crisp white linen, full wall-length windows and of course, face masks, alcohol gel and a thermometer.

                    Every morning, we must check our body temperature everyday between 6am and 9am then send the information via a messenger app.

                    There is no housekeeping service during coronavirus times. I must use a small plastic bowl as a wash basin.

                    The only times I am allowed to leave is when someone calls me to go downstairs for swab tests. I took my first swab test on day three and the result came back negative. Now, I have just five days left in quarantine and one more test to go. Here’s hoping to another negative test so that at last, I can see my family again when they drive down from Bangkok and take me back home.:

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • #40
                      Three yachts dock in Phuket at 'reopening'

                      Three yachts flying foreign flags arrived in Por Bay yesterday, the first day of a limited reopening in the tourist island.

                      Vice Admiral Cherngchai Chomcherngpat, Commander of the 3rd Naval Area Command, in his capacity as head of the Thai Maritime Enforcement Command Centre (Thai MECC), said Thailand has begun to allow foreign yachts to enter the kingdom. The first day was Friday.

                      The three yachts -- one Austrian and two Malaysian -- were moored in a designated area of Por Bay in Phuket for the Covid-19 screening and quarantine of passengers.

                      Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Oct 21 instructed the Thai MECC to facilitate the arrival of foreign yachts and impose measures to ensure the vessels and their crew remain in the designated area.

                      The Thai MECC will also provide assistance to the yachts and crew during times of emergency, said the commander.

                      The Austrian yacht Crabby travelled from a port in Europe. Investigator ll, the first Malaysian vessel travelled from elsewhere in Thailand, while the second, Cayenne, came from Malaysia.

                      All three yachts were operated by a foreigner, said Rear Adm Suchart Premprasert.

                      Less than 10 other yachts have requested for permission to dock at Por Bay today. Each one of them is required to strictly abide by the government's Covid-19 rules.

                      Phuket earlier asked the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration for a limited reopening to welcome about 60 foreign-flagged yachts and cruise vessels.

                      Before entry, yacht and cruise vessel operators or owners are required to prepare travel plans, identification documents and health insurance policies which cover Covid-19 treatment and have a minimum coverage of US$100,000 (3 million baht) per person, and consent to quarantine.

                      The vessels must switch on their Automatic Identification System around the clock, from their ports of origin all the way to Thailand.:

                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • #41
                        Thailand will remain closed to general tourism until at least the 2nd quarter of 2021 – Minister

                        Kiss any resemblance of general tourism to Thailand goodbye, at least until march next year, at the earliest. That’s the outlook for Thailand’s beleaguered tourism industry from the usually optimistic Minster for Sports and Tourism, Pipat Ratchakitprakan.

                        So, apart from the STV and the modified 60 day Tourist Visa, and a few other options – all involving quarantine and a lot of red-tape for now – there’s not much good news on the horizon for people wishing to get back to Thailand right now. The minister’s outlook wipes out any hope of any tourism resurgence for the 2020/2021 high season.

                        The Thai Hotel Association and The Thailand Travel Agents Association have been lobbying, even demanding, the Thai government to drop its mandatory quarantine provisions and urgently negotiate travel bubble with provinces in China and other nations that are currently “low risk” for Covid-19, including Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan.

                        But Pipat says everything is on hold at this stage and that the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is urging caution in regards to any wholesale easing of restrictions.

                        “The country will continue with opening to businessmen, technical experts, high level workers and those in the medical field for now. 14 day quarantine will continue for now with many countries still in the grip of the pandemic.”

                        He also noted that even Chinese officials are advising caution and suggest waiting until the hot season next year (mid year).

                        There was small outbreaks in 3 cities in China over the past few weeks, less than 10 cases in each city, where Chinese health officials rolled out quick response lockdown teams for the affected communities.

                        The Minister, indeed the Thai government and the CCSA, appear to be bowing to survey after survey which shows Thai people, around the country, are in favour of keeping the borders closed for now, despite the country’s tourism and hospitality industry being decimated by the government’s policies.:

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • #42

                          Thailand has been welcoming its first intake of foreign tourists since March of this year, when its borders were slammed shut due to the pandemic. Whilst the number of visitors this month is far below the usual for this time of the year, it serves as a welcome sign that things are slowly but surely starting to go back towards a semblance of normality.

                          First Tourists Arrive In Thailand

                          According to statistics released by Ministry for Tourism and Sports, Thailand welcomed more than 1000 foreign visitors in the month of October. Whilst this may not be a great deal compared to the more than 3 million who usually flock to its shores in October, it’s certainly an increase on the previous month, where no foreign tourists had been recorded entering the country.

                          Thailand has been further buoyed by more tourists committing to travel to the country after securing the new Special Tourist Visa (STV). Last month saw 331 tourists enter the country on the new visa type, which allows its holders to spend between 90 and 270 days in the country. Last week, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) revealed that the number of tourists arriving with the STV has more than doubled to 681.

                          As of November 19th, the TAT announced that of the 681 STV holders that are due to arrive, 263 had completed their mandatory quarantine period, with 134 still in the process of quarantine. A further 284 are expected to arrive by the end of the month.

                          More than a million Americans head to Thailand each year, with the figure rising year after year. With news that the country is starting to open itself up to foreign tourists, there are bound to be smiles on the faces of both foreigners and Thais alike.

                          Turning To China

                          It isn’t just travelers from Europe and North America that Thailand is courting, with many Thais calling for Chinese tourists to be targets to make up for the drastic reduction in tourist numbers.

                          The Association of Thai Travel Agents have called upon the government to allow tourists from 22 Chinese provinces that are deemed to carry a low risk of Covid-19. Claiming that up to 300,000 Chinese tourists to enter each month, the President of ATTA has urged the government to consider the move in order to prevent further collapses in the Thai tourism and travel industries.

                          Thailand is the most popular destination for Chinese travelers, who were the first nationality to be welcomed into Thailand in 7 months when a group from Shanghai arrived in October.

                          Thailand Relaxes Entry Requirements

                          Whilst the number of STV entrants this month doubled the figures from last month, it is thought that even more will arrive into the country in the coming months.

                          This is due to the fact that Thailand removed their prohibitive financial requirements for tourists who wish to enter on the standard Tourist Visa, which grants entry for a period of up to 60 days. Until recently, tourists had to submit proof of funds to the tune of 500,000 baht in the bank, yet this has been removed to encourage more travel from foreign tourists.

                          Thailand’s recent US travel advisory downgrade from Level 2 to Level 1 is also bound to have a positive effect on tourism, as people start to plan safe trips in the New Year. As one of only four countries to be granted Level 1 status, it’s a positive reflection on Thailand’s efforts towards fighting the virus, and one that’s likely to grant them additional tourists in the near future.:

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • #43
                            Cabinet approves long-stay visas for all

                            The cabinet on Tuesday resolved to offer long-stay special tourist visas (STV) to visitors from every country instead of only those with low risks of the novel coronavirus.

                            Deputy government spokesperson Ratchada Dhnadirek said the cabinet made the decision after the earlier limitation of the STV measure had brought fewer visitors than expected.

                            STV has attracted only 825 visitors of 29 nationalities and brought in only six yachts since the measure took effect in late October, she said.

                            The cabinet also approved a 30-day period for visitors on yachts to seek visas after the new STV measure takes effect.

                            Despite the access relaxation, long-stay visitors would still have to give clear information on their planned accommodations in Thailand and be quarantined for 14 days, Miss Ratchada said.

                            STV is initially valid for 90 days and is renewable twice.:
                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                            • #44
                              Long-stay visas proposed for foreigners who buy Bt3m condos

                              Thai residency visas for foreigners who invest as little as Bt3 million in property is among five proposals being considered by the Finance Ministry.

                              The proposals were put forward by Thai real estate associations in a bid to lift a property sector slumping under the impact of Covid-19.

                              The Housing Business Association, Thai Real Estate Association and Thai Condominium Association (TCA) sent the proposals to Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith on December 9, TCA deputy chairman Chairat Thampeera revealed on Thursday.

                              Under current rules, foreigners must spend at least Bt10 million on property to be eligible for a residency visa.

                              However, under the proposed three-tier visa system, foreign purchasers of condos worth Bt3 million-Bt5 million would get a five-year visa.

                              Meanwhile buyers of Bt5 million-Bt10 million condos would get 10-year visas, and those who bought condos for more than Bt10 million would be granted permanent residency.

                              The other four proposals are targeted at Thai property buyers.

                              The first is to cut ownership-transfer and mortgage fees to the lowest rate until December 31, 2021 to reduce the cost of buying both new homes and second-hand houses.

                              The second is to relax government loan-to-value (LTV) mortgage enforcement to provide opportunities for people with purchasing power to invest in property. The real estate associations say home-loan providers already have strict LTV rules.

                              The third is to extend the land-and-buildings tax cut for another two years until the end of 2022 to help relieve ownership burdens.

                              The fourth is a cash-back campaign and credit increase from Bt50,000 to Bt100,000 per person until the end of 2021 to encourage first-time buyers to make their purchases.:

                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • #45
                                Thailand eases curbs on travel

                                The government is easing travel restrictions for citizens from 56 countries to boost the country's pandemic-hit tourism industry, though visitors will be required to undergo a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.

                                Tourists from countries including Australia, France and the United States can travel without visas, but would need a certificate to show they are free of Covid-19 72 hours before travel and a booking at a quarantine hotel, Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said.

                                Visitors would then be subject to a two-week quarantine period after arriving, he said, adding the normal 30-day visa would be extended to 45 days.

                                While in quarantine, arrivals would undergo three Covid-19 tests, up from two required previously, Dr Taweesilp said, adding that more testing could potentially lead to shorter quarantine periods in the future.

                                The revisions come as the tourism-reliant economy struggles to encourage more domestic activity, but an ongoing travel ban continues to keep most foreign tourists away.

                                Earlier, each arrival was tested twice during 14-day quarantine, first three to five days days after arrival, and then again on days 11-13.

                                Each arrival is now tested three times, on day 0-1, day 9-10 and day 13-14, Dr Taweesilp said.

                                The changed testing process would continue until Dec 31. Health officials would then study the results and assess whether quarantine could be reduced to 10 days, Dr Taweesilp said.

                                The assessment will begin on Jan 1 and is expected to be finalised by Jan 15, he said.

                                A shorter quarantine is aimed at attracting foreign tourists, he added.

                                Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul previously said the scheme would be for visitors from low-risk countries.

                                Asked about Christmas and New Year celebrations, Dr Taweesilp said the CCSA was in favour of festivities going ahead and not being banned, as in many Western countries.

                                However, organisers and attendees must follow disease control measures strictly, he said.

                                He also said the government was ready to consider companies' disease control measures to allow visiting employees to work during quarantine.

                                "The entry of tourists will stimulate the economy," Tanee Sangrat, spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said.

                                Travellers from other countries not included in Thursday's announcement could still be eligible for a 90-day special tourist visa and a certificate of entry.

                                Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Thursday that local authorities can order the cancellation of any New Year festivities that fail to follow disease control measures.

                                "Strict measures must be in place while people enjoy themselves during the New Year celebrations. I don't want people to suffer from Covid-19 after New Year. Everyone must cooperate for the sake of the country's safety," he said.

                                Mr Anutin said on Thursday that activities that draw large crowds need approval from the authorities.:

                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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