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Thai Visa’s while under Covid

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  • S Landreth
    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.:

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  • S Landreth
    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.:

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  • S Landreth
    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.:

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  • S Landreth
    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.:

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  • S Landreth
    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.:

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  • S Landreth
    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.: -

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  • S Landreth
    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.:

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  • S Landreth

    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

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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.

    Leave a comment:

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