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Thai Visa’s while under Covid

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  • S Landreth
    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.:

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  • S Landreth
    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.:

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  • S Landreth
    147 Chinese tourists holding STV arrive in Bangkok as Thailand takes steps to recover tourism industry

    A second group of 147 Chinese tourists holding Special Tourist Visa (STV) arrived in Bangkok on Monday, as Thailand takes small steps to recover its vital tourism industry after it closed borders in March to contain the coronavirus.

    Taking CZ3081 by China Southern Airlines, 147 Chinese passengers set out from Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province on Monday and arrived in Bangkok on Monday afternoon, becoming the second batch of Chinese tourists after 39 Chinese travelled to the country on October 20.

    The tourists are undergoing a 14-day quarantine at designated hotels and will install tracking apps on their smartphones, according to local government requirement.

    None of the Chinese have tested positive for COVID-19 and none had a fever.

    Most of the arriving Chinese came to visit families or carry out business activities not as sightseers, the Global Times reporter learned.

    A woman surnamed Duan from North China's Hebei Province said that she and her child came to visit her husband who is working in Bangkok. "We haven't been together since he returned to work in Bangkok in January," Duan told the Global Times.

    She added the application process for the STV is complicated and the flights and hotels are expensive. "But at least I can reunite with my family," Duan said.

    Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday suggested Chinese people try to avoid cross-border travels amid the pandemic. This followed Wednesday's announcement by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism that China will continue the suspension of travel agencies' cross-border group tour services.

    Thailand's STV allows tourists from low-risk countries to enter the country and stay for up to 270 days. Thai authorities said China is one of the key countries that STV targets.

    According to the Bangkok Post, Thailand plans to provide wellness-orientated state quarantine for foreign visitors coming from low-risk countries, said the Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. "Those in wellness state quarantines can receive Thai massages, spa services and play golf, during a quarantine period which is expected to be reduced from 14 to 10 days," the report said.

    China was the largest source of tourists for Thailand before the pandemic. About 11 million Chinese visited Thailand in 2019, contributing about $17 billion in revenue, according to official data.:

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  • S Landreth
    Thai Health Ministry to tighten anti-COVID-19 measures at quarantine facilities

    Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health is considering adjustments to the COVID-19 preventive measures at more than 100 hotels under the alternative state quarantine programme, as well as any use of common facilities by those in quarantine at such locations. The move is to avoid a repeat of an incident in Samut Prakan province, where coronavirus was found on fitness equipment and three people staying there, including a French tourist, were found to be infected.

    Dr. Tharet Karatnairawiwong, Director General of the Department of Health Services Support, said today that, in the near future, arrivals from abroad, including Thai returnees to be quarantined at such facilities, will be divided into different groups, according to the pandemic situation in their countries of departure.

    He said that, during the 14-day mandatory quarantine, those in hotel based quarantine will still be allowed to leave their rooms for recreation or exercise in specific areas, but preventive measures will have to be tightened up, such as social distancing and regular disinfection of fitness equipment, adding that some facilities might have been lax in the enforcement of the preventive measures.

    At present, there are 101 hotels, with 13,004 rooms, being used as quarantine facilities. Two more are being assessed and seven others are pending approval. There are also 21 alternative local quarantine facilities in Buri Ram, Chon Buri, Phuket, Prachin Buri and Surat Thani, provinces which receive direct flights from abroad.:

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  • S Landreth
    TAT says all arrivals must stay at ASQ facilities in Bangkok

    All inbound tourists have to complete quarantine at alternative state quarantine (ASQ) facilities in Bangkok in the first stage of reopening, with direct flights to provinces still postponed, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

    "As we are now in the pilot phase, Bangkok is the best equipped in terms of public health system and ASQ facilities to take care of international tourists. It is more manageable here if any cases emerge," said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

    Transferring tourists to nearby provinces for quarantine leads to higher risk of virus exposure for more people, which could affect local sentiment towards bringing back foreigners.

    However, tourists will be allowed to stay at alternative local state quarantine (ALSQ) in provincial areas, if demand increases in the next phase of reopening and the number of ALSQ sites is adequate to receive tourists, while local sentiment improves, he said.

    In order to stimulate more tourism activities after quarantine in Bangkok, the agency will partner with Thai Airways International, the Thai Hotels Association and the Association of Thai Travel Agents to offer tour packages as well as help subsidise tourism expenditure for foreigners.

    The tour packages will consist of one-day trips in Bangkok or other provinces that can travel by land and air transport.:

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  • S Landreth
    Cabinet endorses tourist arrivals in Thailand on super yachts and cruise ships

    The Thai Cabinet has given approval for entry into Thailand of tourists arriving on yachts carrying special tourist visas (STV).

    Deputy Government Spokesperson, Ms. Traisulee Traisoranakul,said today (Wednesday) that as many as 650 foreign tourists have applied for STVs to arrive in Thailand on 33 cruise ships and 27 super yachts.

    To be granted an STV, she said that tourists must have insurance for COVID-19 infection to an insured value of 100,000 US dollars throughout their stay in Thailand, 40,000 baht insurance coverage for out-patient medical services and 400,000 baht insurance coverage for in-patient medical services.

    Yacht owners or skippers must book marina or port slips in advance and abide by the rules of the Thai Harbour Department.

    The arriving tourists must be quarantined on board their vessels for 14 days.:

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  • S Landreth
    Maybe some good news. Might be able to travel to Thailand,……after I get all I’ve started here completed.

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  • S Landreth
    Thailand - Quarantine for tourists could be reduced to 10 days – or even none: Anutin

    The Public Health Ministry aims to reduce quarantine for tourists to 10 days.

    Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced the target on Wednesday, as Thailand received its first foreign tourists since closing the country in March.

    The batch of 39 tourists from Shanghai were tested for Covid-19 before arriving in Bangkok and would undergo the full 14-day quarantine under current rules, said Anutin.

    He added that progress was being made to reduce the quarantine period while guaranteeing safety so that tourists gradually returned.

    “The truth is, the Public Health Ministry is ready for the change but other relevant agencies still have requested time to adjust. So we have to wait and work together.

    “The Department of Disease Control proposed reducing quarantine to 10 days to begin with,” Anutin said.:

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  • S Landreth
    First batch of tourists Covid-free/More arrivals from China due this month

    The result of the first Covid-19 test on arrival for 39 Chinese tourists who travelled using the special tourist visa reported no positive cases.

    Another two groups from China are scheduled to arrive on Oct 26 and Oct 28, while Scandinavian travellers queue up for November, said Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister.

    He said the ministry has not received additional inbound requests from other countries.

    The ministry plans to consider the consequences from the first stage of reopening.

    If a new flow of tourists arrive without any positive cases, the government is ready to implement a more relaxed quarantine, but this requires approval from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration first, said Mr Phiphat.

    "Europe now faces a second wave," he said. "The Tourism and Sports and Foreign ministries will allow tourists from low-risk cities with zero new cases for more than 30 days."

    The Tourism and Sports Ministry reported tourism receipts in the first nine months were 655 billion baht, down 70.6% from the same period last year, or a decrease of 1.57 trillion baht.

    The number of international arrivals dropped 77.3% year-on-year, as the figure remained at 6.69 million for six consecutive months from April to September.

    International revenue was stagnant at 332 billion baht, down 77% or 1.1 trillion baht shy of the same period last year.

    Meanwhile, domestic tourism from January to September totalled 52.7 million trips, a plunge of 54.7%. Local tourism contributed 323 billion baht to the economy, down 59.5% year-on-year, a decrease of 474 billion baht.

    Domestic trips gradually picked up since the government relaxed some restrictions on interprovincial travel in July. September accounted for 8.58 million domestic trips, the highest monthly figure since the outbreak, yet still 35% less than the tally for September 2019.

    Mr Phiphat said the number of domestic trips is expected to reach 9-10 million during the high season thanks to nice weather and the domestic stimulus campaign, which has been extended to Jan 31, 2021.

    However, the average hotel occupancy rate nationwide in September remained soft at only 27.9%. The ministry reported hotels in second-tier provinces, especially small cities, had a faster recovery than hotels in major provinces, which rely heavily on foreign tourists and often have a glut of accommodation.

    The volume of domestic air flights was 16,229 in September, reported Aeronautical Radio of Thailand. For provincial airports, Chiang Mai recorded the highest number of flights at 3,382, followed by Phuket (2,160), Hat Yai (2,101) and Nakhon Si Thammarat (1,584).:

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  • S Landreth
    First group of Chinese visitors arrive

    The first group of Chinese visitors since the Covid-19 outbreak forced the closure of Thailand's borders in March arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport from Shanghai on Tuesday, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

    The 41 Chinese visitors on a Special Tourist Visa (STV) -- which was recently approved by the cabinet to restart the country's pandemic-battered tourism industry -- arrived on a special Spring Airlines flight at 5.10pm yesterday, TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said.

    Mr Yuthasak said the tourists have entered the 14-day mandatory quarantine in Bangkok. "Most of them planned to visit the beach and they already reserved hotel rooms," he said.

    Upon arriving, the tourists were required to download a tracking app on their smartphones. The STV allows them to remain in the kingdom for up to 90 days, and is renewable twice.

    Mr Yuthasak said more Chinese visitors are on their way, with 147 due to arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport from Guangzhou on Oct 26. TAT estimated that each tourist would spend around 800,000 baht during their stay in Thailand.

    A group of 120 visitors from Guangzhou were supposed to arrive in Phuket on Oct 8, but their trip was postponed as the island's authorities were concerned they might not have the manpower to deal with the tourists' arrival, which coincided with Phuket's annual vegetarian festival, according to the Sports and Tourism Ministry.

    Meanwhile, Thai Airways International (THAI) announced it will fly 120 Chinese visitors with STVs to Thailand on Oct 28, the airline announced.

    The special flight will pick up tourists from Shanghai, along with individuals of various nationalities with a medical visa, as well as Thais returning home from China, said Wiwat Piyawiroj, THAI's executive vice president for commercial operations.

    The flight will depart Shanghai at 5.20pm on Oct 28 and arrive in Bangkok at 9.15pm on the same day.

    Chinese tourists accounted for most of last year's tourist arrivals, with 10.99 million visitors arriving last year.

    The TAT governor said the return of foreign visitors signalled a recovery, which has been made possible by a raft of tourism-related incentives.:

    She’s got it covered: A woman in full protective gear makes her way through Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday after clearing immigration and passing her Covid-19 health checks. She was among the first group of Chinese visitors to come to Thailand courtesy of the new Special Tourist Visa (STV).

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  • S Landreth
    Thailand to welcome its first group of STV tourists today

    The first group of 41 tourists travelling on the Special Tourist Visa (STV) from Shanghai will land in Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday at 5pm, a second group of 100 people from Guangzhou will fly in on October 26 and another group will be flown in from Shanghai on October 28.

    Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said on Tuesday that flights for future STV tourist groups from Europe are still considering which airport they will land in, as it may depend on where the tourists have booked their 14-day mandatory quarantine.

    “I confirm that all foreigners who are arriving will have strictly complied with health measures. They will undergo the 14-day quarantine in alterative state facilities, and if they are clear of infection, they will be allowed to travel around the country. However, each tourist will be required to have a tracker app. Most of them, so far, have expressed a desire to travel to the beaches once their quarantine is complete,” Yuthasak said.:

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  • S Landreth

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  • Butterfly
    Thailand is fooked beyond repair,

    good news for old timers;

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  • serrollt
    Due to international travel restrictions still in place, most (93%) tourism customers are Thais
    Oh, who would have guessed.

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  • S Landreth
    Weighing the consequences/As pressure rises to reopen tourism with laxer measures, operators are growing hopeful

    What is the real cost for tourists when planning an outbound trip to Thailand in the Covid-19 era?

    Apart from sufficient budget for a quarantine facility, which for the most luxurious trip can be as high as 300,000 baht per person, tourists must consent to dedicated extra time for a 14-day quarantine -- a condition that only allows people who don't have time and money constraints to visit the country.

    While high-net-worth travellers may agree to spring for vacation here, their visits will be just a drop in the ocean when compared with 1.9 trillion baht Thailand recorded last year from foreign tourist receipts.

    According to data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the upscale market or those earning over US$60,000 a year made up less than 20% in the past five years as officials struggled to generate a healthier portion of high-end travellers.

    In the past, the TAT avoided mentioning the targeted number and stressed the importance of the revenue goal instead, but volume was always in the limelight.

    Last year, when foreign tourist arrival numbers nearly hit 40 million, major revenue sources came from short-haul markets in Asia.

    Since the strict lockdown was eased in the second quarter, the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta) has repeatedly called for a shorter quarantine period or, ideally, no compulsory quarantine to attract intra-regional travellers who don't want to spend two weeks in confinement for their four- or five-day trip.

    To be specific, the association pointed to a few potential markets, the likes of China and Taiwan, that are considered low-risk countries.

    If applied, the scheme would draw 100,000 travellers a month and help repair the broken tourism engine with at least 5 billion baht in revenue, Atta said.

    Tour operators pledged to responsible for those tour groups to calm public concerns.

    "With mandatory quarantine in place, nobody wants to visit Thailand. But if the government allows tour operators to cater those guests, I'm confident that we can contain the virus spread and reignite our economy at the same time," said Vichit Prakobgosol, Atta's president.


    Hong Kong and Singapore recently reached agreement on a travel bubble policy, which will soon let people from those two countries travel back and forth without being quarantined.

    Mr Vichit said the decision is unavoidable for any tourism-led country that wants to save itself from peril.

    During the crisis, businesses that could redirect to domestic customers tended to have a better recovery pace than those heavily reliant on international guests.

    Some 62.5% of travel companies have reopened, but that rate pales compared with the overall average of 78.2%, according to the latest statistics from the TAT.

    A poll of 682 tourism-related operators found that 100% of car rental services have resumed business as people avoiding public transport in the wake of the pandemic, followed by restaurants (89.2%) and hotels (81.6%).

    Due to international travel restrictions still in place, most (93%) tourism customers are Thais, up 31% from the pre-Covid period.

    Mr Vichit said local communities should accept that special international groups allowed in earlier and those applying for a special tourist visa (STV) are not enough, as the expected number is just 1,000 per month, a far cry from the monthly figure of 3 million last year.

    "The STV model with a 14-day quarantine is only a minor remedy to the large-scale devastation of the tourism industry," he said.

    The Atta president insisted that achieving 100,000 tourists is not a far-fetched goal, given that in a normal situation tourists from low-risk countries total at least 1 million per month.

    "If just 10% of them return, the tourism industry and overall economy will rebound," Mr Vichit said. "At present, there're many cities that are free from the virus for longer than 60 days, so why can't we start with a few of them."

    He said there's also pent-up demand from tourists who have been travelling domestically -- a noticeable trend shown during this month's Chinese National Holidays, which spurred 650 million trips in the mainland.


    There were positive signs for tour operators last week when the Public Health Ministry floated the idea to shorten the standard quarantine period from 14 to 10 days for visitors from low-risk countries, including China, Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia.

    The risky attempt is seen as an effort to drive the tourism engine amid negative factors awaiting this quarter, such as the end of the first-phase debt moratorium period for small and medium-sized enterprises on Oct 22.

    Tony Fernandes, chief executive of AirAsia Group, said keeping borders closed is not a solution in a globalised world, as Thailand and most countries in Asean depend on tourism.

    Testing on arrival without a mandatory 14-day quarantine is the preferred solution for post-outbreak travels.

    A strong contact tracing app is also important to detect people who have been in close contact with Covid-19 patients, in case the number of cases start to flare up.

    "At some point, countries have to take a little bit of risk to reopen, as we cannot live in a cave for the rest of our lives," Mr Fernandes said.

    Moreover, vaccine development and distribution will take time.

    "We have to live with this virus as we have with others before like the common cold or dengue," Mr Fernandes said.

    While the airline waits for borders to reopen after the outbreak, AirAsia has to focus on the domestic market as demand for short-haul work and travel still persists.

    Mr Fernandes said air travel will not change much relative to the impact of the 9/11 attacks, which demanded airlines adapt to new strategies.

    Still, there are a lot more health-related regulations to be added to deal with the situation, he said.


    Opening the country to foreign visitors may not necessarily be an economic booster, but it is an attempt to learn how to deal with Covid-19 risks that transcend frontiers, said Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the Employers' Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry (EconThai).

    The relentless spread of Covid-19 in many countries, including the US, India and Myanmar, and the revival of the disease in European countries like Britain, makes it hard to predict if this is the right time for international tourism.

    Mr Tanit said he is "not confident" tourists will enjoy a trip to Thailand while businesses in their countries are slammed by the pandemic.

    The number of foreign travelers is likely to be small relative to pre-Covid figures. Arrivals will stimulate the economy only for some local business operators and in certain areas, Mr Tanit said.

    "Opening the country to thousands of tourists cannot immediately restore the Thai economy, as we usually welcome 3 million tourists on average per year," he said.

    But this does not mean the entry for foreign visitors should remain shut.

    The government should open the country as an "experiment" to see how it can manage risks, he said.

    "But they must be quarantined for 14 days," Mr Tanit said.

    For foreign businessmen who only come to Thailand for errands or contract signing, the government should hold business meetings for them inside state quarantine venues, he said.

    The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) agrees that the 14-day quarantine is appropriate if the government allows international arrivals to resume.

    "Opening the door to foreign tourists will put Thailand at risk of a second outbreak, but the economy needs restoration," said Kriangkrai Tiannukul, the FTI's vice-chairman. "The 1.9-trillion-baht stimulus programme to help the economy is not enough."

    Analysis from health experts at the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) are needed to help the government strike a balance between disease prevention and economic rehabilitation.

    "The government cannot listen only to the CESA," said Mr Kriangkrai, referring to the Center for Economic Situation Administration. "They need to heed facts and recommendations presented by both groups."

    Authorities must make careful decisions because some business people are calling on the government to relax measures to screen foreigners.

    Harald Link, chairman of B.Grimm Group, Thailand's oldest trading conglomerate, suggests the government relax the measures so that Thailand can remain attractive to foreign businessmen planning to invest in the country.

    These investors are looking for new locations to set up their production bases in Asean, so "if the measures are too stringent, our economic development may be affected", he said.

    Flights to Thailand have become scarcer compared with those to Vietnam, not to mention the cheaper electricity rate in the neighbouring nation catching investors' eyes, Mr Link said.

    If lenient measures lead to another domestic outbreak, it should not be difficult to curb the problem, he said.:

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