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  • Special tourist visa programme extended

    The cabinet resolved on Tuesday to extend the Special Tourist Visa (STV) programme for one year until Sept 30 next year to woo well-to-do visitors.

    Deputy government spokesperson Traisuree Taisaranakul said the cabinet approved the proposal from the Tourism and Sports Ministry to extend the special visa programme for visitors' long stays from its original end this Thursday.

    The extended programme was intended to attract foreigners with high purchasing power to visit the country with their families and stay for 90-270 days. The visits would bring in money and support tourism and related business, Ms Traisuree said.

    The Tourism and Sports Ministry told the cabinet that over the past year the STV programme brought 5,609 visitors to Thailand and their stay caused at least 1.24 billion baht to be circulated. The long-stay visitors came from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain and Croatia.

    Their favourite destinations after their quarantine were Bangkok, Surat Thani (Koh Samui), Phuket, Udon Thani, Chon Buri (Pattaya), Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Chiang Mai and Rayong. Their stays averaged 90 days, Ms Traisuree said.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • Phuket bookings on rise as Thailand entry period cut to 7 days

      From tomorrow (October 1), foreign tourists in the “Phuket sandbox” will only have to spend one week on the island before they can travel to other provinces in Thailand. The sandbox period was reduced from 14 days in a bid to lure more tourists after a lukewarm response in the first three months.

      Since its launch on July 1, the Phuket sandbox has drawn only 37,978 foreign visitors – little more than one-third of the 100,000 targeted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The low numbers have been blamed on various factors, including the Covid-19 situation and intensive screening measures.

      The top five countries of origin for Phuket sandbox visitors are the US (5,792), Israel (5,414), UK (4,740), Germany (3,795) and France (3,646).

      Kongsak Khupongsakorn, president of the Southern Thai Hotels Association, said that disease control among tourists on the island has been very good since July. But he lamented that tourist numbers have been low.

      He has higher hopes for the fourth quarter, especially if authorities respond to pressure from the private sector by allowing Phuket restaurants to serve alcohol, simplifying entry requirements at the airport, and reducing the required number of Covid tests from three to two.

      Kongsak said tourists had already booked 150,000 nights in October – matching bookings for each of the three previous months. He expects October bookings to rise as high as 200,000-250,000 nights as the situation improves.:
      • With the Covid situation improving, Chiang Rai braces for tourist season

      Chiang Rai is preparing for the tourist season as the Covid-19 situation in the province has eased up. Wat Rong Khun is renovating its landscape, while Phu Chi Fa National Park is ready to open for tourism on October 1.

      As winter is arriving, the northern part of the country is preparing to welcome tourists for its high season amid the improving pandemic situation, especially in Chiang Rai province.

      Wat Rong Khun (White temple) in Pa O Don Chai subdistrict, Muang district has announced the reopening after being closed for several months. The front area and the exhibition zone are open for visitors, while other areas remain closed for repairs and renovation.

      Chiang Rai’s Phu Chi Fa National Park is expecting a large number of tourists during the upcoming winter season. The park will be open on October 1 as no virus case has been found for some period. Tourists can visit the park during daytime, and can set up tents in the community areas or stay at private hotels or resorts.:
      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • Foreign tourists can now apply to stay for up to nine months in Thailand

        Foreign tourists can now stay in Thailand for up to nine months without the need of travel abroad to have their visas extended, three months on the initial visa with two extensions of three months each.

        Thailand’s Ministry of Interior says the new rules came into effect on October 1st, and are valid until September 30th next year, in a bid to boost the tourism industry.

        Foreign tourists will, however, have to meet certain requirements to qualify as long stayers.

        First of all, they must agree to a period of quarantine, as part of the Public Health Ministry’s measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, and must show booking receipts from the hotels in which they will isolate.

        Then, they must show evidence of payments for their lodgings during their stay in the kingdom, which can be a rented house, a rented condominium room or a title deed of a condominium room. They are also required to have health insurance, with a minimum of US$ 100,000 cover for COVID-19 treatmentvalid for the entire period of their stay in the country. They must also have health and accident insurance coverage of40,000 baht for out-patient treatment and 400,000 baht for in-patient treatment.

        Having met the requirements, tourists will be granted a special tourist visa (STV), which is for single use and will allow them to stay in Thailand for 90 days, which can extended twice by90 days per extension. The visa extension fee is 2,000 baht.:
        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • Thai tourism sandbox schemes generate THB2.33 billion in first three months

          Thailand’s tourism sandbox schemes have attracted 38,699 foreign tourists as of September 30 – three months since the first scheme was launched on July 1 in Phuket, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Saturday.

          “The schemes have generated 2.33 billion baht in revenue,” he said. “Of the total earnings, 2.25 billion baht came from the Phuket Sandbox scheme, 66.58 million from Samui Plus Model and 12.16 million from the 7+7 Phuket Extension programme.”

          Under the Phuket Sandbox scheme, foreigners who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and test negative can fly into the province and move freely without having to quarantine. After spending 14 days in Phuket and testing negative, they can travel to other provinces.

          Surat Thani’s Samui Plus Model allows vaccinated foreigners to travel on sealed routes to Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao if they spend the first seven days in an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) hotel and undergo tests as required.

          The Samui Plus Model is linked with an island-hopping scheme called “7+7 Phuket Extension”, under which visitors who spend seven days on Phuket and test negative can travel to tourist islands in Surat Thani, Krabi and Phang Nga provinces for seven days.

          “Of the 38,699 foreign visitors, 907 travelled under the Samui Plus Model and 399 joined the 7+7 Phuket Extension programme,” he said. “Of the total arrivals, 91 or about 0.3 per cent tested positive for Covid-19. From July 1 to February 2022, 716,898 room nights have been booked in SHA+ certified hotels.

          “The government is planning to expand the sandbox programme to other provinces in the fourth quarter of this year and first quarter of next year with the aim to welcoming at least a million visitors or 5,000 people a day. The aim is to generate more than 60 billion baht in revenue from tourism,” Thanakorn said. “The authorities also estimate that by the end of this year, 62 million or 90 per cent of the population will have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, which should help attract tourists next year.”:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Chiang Mai will accept foreign tourists by November

            Chiang Mai has announced its readiness to welcome visitors to stimulate the citys economy and will accept travellers to four provinces from October 1 for Thai travellers and November 1 for foreign tourists.

            Rattaphol Naradisorn, deputy governor of Chiang Mai, revealed that Chiang Mai province is ready to receive a lot of tourists, including accommodation, tourist attractions, and the safety of public health.

            The Chiang Mai Communicable Disease Committee issued a notice on September 1 allowing people arriving from highly restricted areas to not be tested for COVID-19.

            People who have been recovered from COVID-19 for less than 3 months must present a medical certificate or had an Antigen Test Kit (ATK) result from a medical facility no later than 72 hours before their arrival in Chiang Mai. Fully vaccinated tourists can skip 14-day quarantine.

            After meeting with TAT, Chiang Mai has guidelines for opening the area in 4 pilot districts first, namely Mueang District, Mae Rim District, Mae Taeng District, Doi Tao District.

            Thai travellers will allow entering from October 1 to all areas of the province. After ensuring health safety, the province will accept vaccinated foreign tourists from November 1 to the pilot districts.:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • Phuket gets 42,000 overseas visitors

              More than 42,000 international travellers have flown to Phuket during July 1-Oct 5, generating more than 2 billion baht for the economy, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

              Since Oct 1, the government has cut the quarantine time to seven days for fully vaccinated international visitors under the Sandbox scheme, allowing tourists who land in Phuket to hop to other popular designated destinations in Phangnga, Krabi and Surat Thani.

              They can stay in those destinations for seven days, from the previous 14-day requirement, before being able to travel further to other parts of Thailand.

              TAT Phuket director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri said Phuket welcomed 42,006 visitors during the July 1-Oct 5 period.

              Most were long-haul travellers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, France and Germany. They generated up to 2 billion baht.

              "We set the target at 100,000 visitors because we thought we would have both short-and long haul visitors. But so far most of our visitors are from the United States and Europe," she said.

              TAT is optimistic the number of tourists visiting the Phuket Sandbox will increase.

              "We see good signs that tourism in Phuket is picking up," she said.

              The total of room reservations at Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus-certified hotels from July this year to next February is 754,777 room nights, including 168,759 room nights in October.

              "About 84% of visitors are satisfied with the SHA Plus-certified hotels," she said.

              Meanwhile, Phuket provincial health chief Dr Kusak Kukiatiikoon says the Covid-19 infection rate is declining.

              "During the past week, the daily infection rate has been 170-180 people. On Tuesday, we found four positive cases from the Phuket Sandbox programme on top of 175 local infections," he said.

              There were 3,993 patients still under treatment for Covid-19 at hospitals. About 22% were yellow-coded patients and 28% red-coded patients with severe conditions. Phuket still had 2,367 available beds for Covid-19 patients, he said.

              For the ratio of inoculated people in Phuket, 88.13% out of 547,548 people had been given their first shot, 83.34% the second dose and 41.36% received a third dose.

              Regarding vaccinations for students aged 12-18, Dr Kusak said 24,787 students have requested inoculation.

              "We have received 12,780 doses of Pfizer vaccines from the Public Health Ministry. We will start to vaccinate the first group of students during Oct 8-11," he said. The rest of the students will receive the vaccine around the end of this month. "We will have enough vaccines for every student in time before the school opens," he said.:
              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • 42,000 is a good start
                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • 2 billion baht is alright also
                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • Only double-jabbed, negative passengers can fly in Thailand

                    With Thailand slowly reopening to tourists, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has reiterated that airlines will only take passengers who are either fully vaccinated or can produce negative test results taken within 72 hours.

                    Each airline has also been instructed to adjust their ventilation system and strictly observe all Covid-19 prevention measures, Public Health Ministry official Dr Chawetsan Namwat said.:

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • Five more areas open to tourists on Nov 1

                      Five more tourist destinations in Thailand will be opened to visitors starting Nov 1 on the condition that there is no new large Covid-19 cluster in the areas until then.

                      The areas are Bangkok, Chiang Mai (Muang, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng and Doi Tao districts), Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin district), Phetchaburi (Cha-am district) and Chon Buri (Pattaya, Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts), government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Saturday.

                      Bangkok is of particular concern since it is the gateway to the country.

                      “Although tourists may prefer to go to the sea or mountains, almost all of them have to visit Bangkok at least once on their trips to the country,” he said.

                      The capital has been the epicentre of the third wave of the outbreak, with the highest number of cases and deaths, although the number of new cases nationwide has fallen to slightly more than 10,000 a day in recent weeks, a level manageable by the healthcare system, according to authorities.

                      It remains unclear what the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s view of the plan is. Earlier, the Bangkok governor had said the capital would be opened only when he gave the green light, noting that a 70% vaccination rate in all districts was his goal.

                      Mr Thanakorn said the government’s decision followed the success of the Phuket Sandbox scheme, which has injected 2.33 billion baht into the economy over the past three months since its launch in July.

                      As of Thursday, 43,026 tourists had visited the resort island. Hotel bookings for stays from July until February now total 779,502 nights. The top five nationalities of the visitors were American, Israeli, British, German and French.

                      The Samui Plus programme and the 7+7 extension to the Phuket sandbox attracted 1,069 visitors.

                      The government projects 1.5 trillion baht in tourist revenue next year. Almost half of it, or around 600 billion baht, would come from 15 million foreign tourists. The domestic travel market is forecast to add another 800 billion baht.

                      The forecasts represent half the amount earned in pre-Covid 2019, when tourism revenue totalled 3.4 trillion baht and foreign arrivals were almost 40 million.

                      “Under the Phuket sandbox, there have been no reports of transmissions between foreign visitors and Thais. Thais should therefore be confident and join us in transforming Thai tourism,” Mr Thanakorn said.:

                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • Nov 1 reopening

                        Thailand will allow fully vaccinated visitors from low-risk countries to enter the kingdom without quarantine from Nov 1 as a key effort by the government to boost the economy.

                        In a televised broadcast on Monday night, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he has instructed the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the Public Health Ministry to consider reopening the country to fully vaccinated tourists without quarantine on Nov 1.

                        However, pre-conditions are that international visitors will need to show that they are Covid-free at their time of travel with an RT-PCR test undertaken before they leave their home country, and then have a test in Thailand.

                        He said these travellers would be allowed to visit any part of the country after meeting these requirements, adding that there will be at least ten "low risk" countries, including Singapore, Germany, China and the US.

                        He said more countries will be added to the "low risk" list on Dec 1, stressing that tourists from countries not on the list will be required to undergo quarantine.

                        Gen Prayut said the government also expects to consider lifting the ban on serving of alcoholic beverages in restaurants.

                        "By December 1, we will also consider allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages in restaurants as well as the operation of entertainment venues," said Gen Prayut.

                        He said in the last one-and-half years, people have lived with some of the greatest peacetime challenges the country has faced in its history.

                        "It has been one of the most painful experiences in my life, too, to make decisions that balance the saving of lives with the saving of livelihoods -- a choice that is not always clearly separate, and where we may save lives, but commit those lives to the unbearable pain of trying to survive with little or no income; or where we may save livelihoods but commit one's family, friends and neighbours to loss of life and the loss of their breadwinner," he said.

                        "The time has come for us to ready ourselves to face the coronavirus and live with it as with other endemic infections and diseases, much as we have learnt to live with other diseases with treatments and vaccinations," he said.

                        "Today, I would like to announce the first small but important step in decisively beginning the process of trying to restore our livelihoods."

                        "I know this decision comes with some risk. It is almost certain that we will see a temporary rise in serious cases as we relax these restrictions.

                        "We will have to track the situation very carefully, and see how to contain and live with that situation because I do not think that the many millions who depend on the income generated by the travel, leisure and entertainment sector can possibly afford the devastating blow of a second lost New Year holiday period," he added.

                        Gen Prayut said he has recognised the extraordinary achievements of public health workers, other officials and all citizens for their response to his appeal in June to ready the country for quarantine-free arrivals within 120 days.

                        "After we adopted the 120-day goal, extraordinary efforts were made to increase our supply of vaccines," he said, adding that deliveries jumped threefold, from around 4 million doses in May to almost 12 million arriving in July, then almost 14 million arriving in August, and now running at over 20 million a month until the end of the year, totaling over 170 million doses, far ahead of the goals he had set.

                        Public health staff worked tirelessly to accelerate vaccinations to support the 120-day goal, and the public gave great cooperation in registering for vaccinations. As a result, the country's daily vaccination number shot up threefold in July, from around 80,000 doses a day in May, and kept increasing until Thailand rose to be among the 10 fastest countries in the world for administering shots.

                        "We currently frequently administer more than 700,000 shots a day, and sometimes even exceed one million shots a day."

                        The premier said the fact that Thailand can begin quarantine-free entry in November -- despite many other countries still trying to contain the Delta variant with restrictions on the travel of their citizens -- is a great tribute to the unity of purpose and determined response to his appeal by the public health services, by many other government departments, by the private sector, and by the cooperation given by citizens in all matters.

                        "Our nation has performed an extraordinary feat in the last months and we can all be very proud about everyone's enormous contributions to those achievements.

                        "These achievements, coupled with the gradual relaxation of other countries' travel restrictions, now enable us to begin the process of quarantine-free entry into Thailand," Gen Prayut said.:

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • Anutin warns of another lockdown if infections rise after Thailand reopens

                          Thailand may be locked down again if people don’t observe Covid-19 preventive measures once the country reopens, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul warned on Tuesday.

                          Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced in a televised address on Monday that he has instructed the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and the Public Health Ministry to look into opening the country on November 1.

                          Initially, tourists from 10 low-risk countries will be allowed to travel to Thailand without having to quarantine provided they are fully jabbed and test negative.

                          The list will be expanded to cover more countries in the first week of December and then again in January 2022.

                          This morning, Anutin said that the detail of the 10 countries was under discussion and will be proposed to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration on this Thursday.

                          Asked about a tendency to close the country again, the heath minister said it depends on Thai people. If they don’t follow the preventive measures strictly, Thailand tends to be shut again.

                          In addition, Anutin added that risk places like entertainment venues will be monitored seriously, in a bid to prevent the new outbreaks.:

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • Anutin: Allow more tourists to enter, not just from 10 low-risk countries

                            Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he doesn’t agree that tourists from only 10 "low-risk" countries should be allowed to visit Thailand when it reopens on November 1.

                            On Monday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced in a televised address that he had instructed the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the Public Health Ministry to look into the reopening of the country on November 1.

                            Initially, tourists from 10 low-risk countries will be allowed to enter Thailand without having to quarantine, provided they are fully jabbed and test negative.

                            However, Anutin voiced disagreement. He said tourists from more countries other than the 10 “low-risk” nations should be allowed in, and they should all be required to take RT-PCR tests on entry and stay a night in a province they arrive. If the tests prove they are not infected, they can be allowed to travel in the country.

                            He also told the press that he had already discussed his opinions with other “relevant” individuals.

                            More details of the 10 countries will be proposed to the CCSA this Thursday.:

                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                            • Thailand - Quarantine being lifted, more provinces being opened

                              There will be no quarantine for fully vaccinated air travellers from five countries from Nov 1, and destinations in more provinces will also be opened to foreign tourists.

                              Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said the CCSA resolved on Thursday to allow in fully vaccinated visitors from Britain, the United States, Germany, Singapore and China if they pass an RT-PCR test before arrival - for an initial period from Nov 1 to Dec 31.

                              Travellers from these five countries were considered as having low-risk of Covid-19 infection. They would not have to quarantine.

                              The number of destinations opened to tourists would also expand from four provinces - Phuket and parts of Surat Thani, Phangnga and Krabi provinces - to 17 provinces of economic significance. This would include all of Bangkok, Samut Prakan (only Suvarnabhumi airport), Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin district) and all of Krabi and Phangnga, Dr Taweesilp said.

                              From Dec 1, another 16 major provinces would reopen, including Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Phrae and Sukhothai.

                              The operations committee of the CCSA had yet to finalise the entire list of the additional provinces, Dr Taweesilp said.

                              The CCSA's briefing on Thursday afternoon started with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha confirming that Thailand was ready for reopening in two weeks.

                              "Many countries want to let their citizens visit Thailand... It will be a small start, for people to resume earning a living," the prime minister said.

                              Ministers and senior representatives of the government and the private sector were also present for the announcement at Government House.:

                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • Udon Thani pushes to reopen under ‘sandbox’ on Nov 1

                                Udon Thani is pushing to open its doors to tourists under a “sandbox” scheme from November 1, well ahead of the initial reopening schedule on New Year’s Day.

                                The provincial authorities say the sandbox scheme has become a standard operating procedure and Udon Thani should be able to open six districts to double-jabbed tourists or those with negative test results without them having to quarantine for 14 days. The six districts considered are Muang, Kumphawapi, Prachaksinlapakhom, Nong Han, Nam Som and Na Yoong.

                                The main targets are investors, regular tourists and medical tourists.:

                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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