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UPDATE: Pushback from local associations over the Thai government’s “Phuket Model”

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UPDATE: Pushback from local associations over the Thai government’s “Phuket Model” | The Thaiger
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UPDATE: Amidst the “plans” and “models” being proposed by the government to re-open Thailand to some form of general tourism (nothing confirmed yet), there’s also been some pushback from operators in some of the hardest hit areas.

The government had proposed the Phuket Model as a way of kicking off tourism from early October. But the model involves a mandatory 14 day quarantine, another 7 days on the island and then tourists able to travel beyond. The limited flights, 14 day quarantine, expensive “registered” hotels and testing regime were seen to be impediments to possible success.

(New information) Under the proposal for the trial, the Thailand Longstay Company, a private company where the Tourism Authority of Thailand has a 30% stake, would provide assistance with visa applications and purchase of insurance for tourists (likely only Thai insurance companies). The tourists would be required to undergo a Covid-19 test 48 hours before their departure for Phuket and they would be tested again when they arrive.

Officials have estimated that 100,000 tourists could take advantage of the “model”. It was then extrapolated that the “Phuket Model” would be rolled out to other parts of the country, principally Koh Samui, Pattaya and 3 other destinations, also badly effected by the lack of tourists,

But the government admits it is facing a few hurdles – 1 from the healthcare providers who are concerned about ramping up their facilities to cope with the testing and possible increase in cases, and secondly from the local tourist associations who say the idea is flawed to begin with.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says that… “Phuket would be a pilot area where foreign tourists are allowed to travel.”

But Sarayuth Mallum, the President of the Phuket Tourist Association, says they’ve developed their own model for the reintroduction of tourism into the island. They’ve proposed the 4Ts – Target (targeted low-risk countries), Testing (screening and testing when tourists arrive), Tracing (a mobile app to track tourists in real time) and Treatment (adequate health system conduct testing and and treat possible Covid-19 patients). Notably the 4Ts plan doesn’t involve a mandatory 14 day quarantine.

But noted that reopening Phuket “did not mean just opening the airport and letting any foreign tourists in”.

“We will allow only foreigners who used to stay in Phuket and now want to come back and those keen on staying for a long time. We intend to accept only a small group, not everyone,” he said in the Bangkok Post.

He disagreed with the Tourist Minister’s “Phuket Model”, saying that Phuket must “protect and serve local people first”.

The Mayor of Patong Chalermlak Kebsap shared the general concerns and said that places like Patong have been suffering but that there was a lot of concerns about the proposed model.

“Most of the people here are not very confident in the government’s measures. We are not sure if they will be strictly implemented but we must be open. People are having a tough time. Businesses have shut doors. We do not want a lot of money; we just want to get by and be healthy.”

She also voiced the concerns of many smaller hotels and guest houses that admitted they would be unable to participate in the program, and only the bigger hotels owned by powerful families would benefit.

The local Chamber of Commerce has also voiced its concerns saying that the locals want to implement their 4T program and disagreed with the Tourism Minister’s proposal. He believed that the first group of foreigners arriving from October should be the ones with plans to stay for a long time – foreign students, medical tourists, people with families or existing businesses.

The GM of a leading hotel group confided with The Thaiger that some sort of re-opening plan was “urgent” but that the government’s plan would not work and would only benefit a few hotels whilst adding a lot of inconvenience for the rest of the island as ‘quarantined’ tourists would be allowed to roam in a 1 kilometre radius from their registered hotel.

“Who is going to track these people? What happens to all the hotel staff, residents and other tourists that also work or wander into these 1 kilometre zones? The plan hasn’t been thought through.”

Under the current government plan proposal, foreign tourists travelling to Phuket would have to obtain permission to travel to and enter Thailand from their country’s Thai embassy with all the associated paperwork, applications and waiting times. They wouldn’t be able to simply purchase a flight online and jump on a plane.

They would have to test negative 48 or 72 hours before they travel (both times have been published in the media)and have a health insurance premium valued at least US$100,000. Then they have to find a direct flight to Phuket – at this stage there are none on offer excepting a plan from Thai Airways to re-introduce 2 flights a month from 6 destinations starting late November. The national airline is still in the middle of a generational restructure and ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.

Koh Samui, also desperate for tourists to reboot its flagging economy, has its own set of problems. Businesses, from restaurants to hotels, car rental businesses to tour operators, bars, massage services and retail shops, all report an almost 99% drop in business since the start of the year. Many hotels have not only shut their doors but shut down for ever.

But the remaining operators, desperately hanging on, say they don’t want to be left behind with all the focus on the Phuket Model.

Many of the island’s operators also bemoan the ongoing monopoly of Bangkok Airways and its strangle-hold on the air traffic into Samui, saying that international carriers should be allowed easy access to fly directly into Samui, rather than via Bangkok. They also demand Bangkok Airways stop price-gouging customers and leveraging its monopoly for profit.

At some stage all the players – the CCSA, tourism operators, hospitality representatives and associations – will have to meet and finalise a plan to co-ordinate the re-opening of general tourism into Thailand. But, with a month to go before the planned kick-off of the Phuket Model, there would be critical doubts whether decisions can be made, and then implemented, in time.

Even with these plans and limited importing of tourists, the numbers will only amount to 100s of thousands and not the millions that were once vital contributors to Thailand’s economy.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Kenneth Miller

    August 30, 2020 at 10:20 am

    glad that plans are in the works, agree that the initial plans will only benefit the larger hotels. My main concern that is not being talked about, how will the local staff be taken care of. Will they get daily tests given that there might be waves of tourists checking in daily. If the staff is positive, will they be taken care of?

    • Avatar

      Todd

      August 31, 2020 at 9:54 am

      Don’t expect “waves” of tourists checking in daily. This program will only appeal to those with long term interests in Thailand. It’s important not to say things that are irrational or sensationalist.

  2. Avatar

    Eddie

    August 30, 2020 at 11:31 am

    All these people forget that one and only principal: The tourist choose the destination, not you choose the tourists. Put down your ego and sober. Those ridiculous plans just wont work, and become another international joke which further worsen the reputation and economy of Thailand.

    • Avatar

      Patrick Nouvel

      September 1, 2020 at 10:50 pm

      Fully agree
      GM of boutique resort Samui

  3. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    August 30, 2020 at 11:51 am

    “Officials estimate a 100,000 will take advantage of the model”
    Dream on.
    They really have a big opinion of Phuket.

  4. Avatar

    Terry

    August 30, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    I wonder where the estimates comes from based on this imprisonment in hotel for 14 days come from?
    or is its just pure guessing?

    • Avatar

      Patrick Nouvel

      September 1, 2020 at 10:51 pm

      Just wrong smelling

  5. Avatar

    rinky stingpiece

    August 30, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    Protecting local people means giving them jobs so they can eat and pay their rent and bills. It’s not complicated.

    Thailand’s reputation needs serious rehabilitation, and that will take much more than these silly schemes.

  6. Avatar

    Ed

    August 30, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Comments here are right on the money. It is really amazing that tourism officials, operators, and govt. could have such a poor-to-non-existent understanding of tourism.

  7. Avatar

    Jason

    August 30, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    I must say that this plan proposed by the TAT will not work. It think that the local tourism association in Phuketknows this only too well. They know what foreign tourists look for and want and have been so excellent at providing memorable holidays to millions of people. The people of Phuket are so truly wonderful! I have had to watch on from my country as business after business close or go into hibernation, in the hope of coming back once international tourism returns to some kind of normal. Yes people would love to come back to Phuket. That is still true. But the conditions imposed on them, will be a decisive factor that determines wether or not they come. International tourists are looking for the path of least resistance. They are looking for somewhere without difficult conditions of entry. 14 day quarantine in designated hotels will never be conducive to tourists. The TAT needs to look at what they, if they were a tourist, would accept as reasonable given the pandemic. I don’t have Covid 19…neither does the majority of the world’s population. There are plenty of people who want holidays who don’t have the virus. So a test prior to departure and a test on arrival (with quarantine only until the test result is known) with no quarantine after that, will work…for everyone…think about it 🙂

    • Avatar

      Patrick Nouvel

      September 1, 2020 at 10:54 pm

      Very pragmatic but Brain washing & collective paranoia are deep in the Minds here , pity

  8. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    August 30, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    So the Phuket Model wasn’t meant for all tourists? ‘Just for foreigners who used to stay in Phuket and want to return.’ What does that mean? I used to stay in Phuket for months at a time 4-7 yrs ago, does this qualify? Is it by invitation only?

  9. Avatar

    Simon

    August 30, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Jeesus!!! I can tell she died of septic shock from here!!!

  10. Avatar

    EdwardV

    August 30, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    People take vacations to relax and forget their worries. They travel to Thailand because it’s inexpensive and flexible. The Phuket plan is the opposite of all four of those principles. The idea it will draw 100k in visitors is dreaming. Outside of expats who can’t otherwise return to their homes and families, it’s not a plan to draw people who can choose to visit somewhere else without a quarantine and at a cheaper price. Even then those expats are not sticking to Phuket a minute longer than they need too. You almost couldn’t think up a plan more designed to reduce tourism than this one.

  11. Avatar

    Das

    August 30, 2020 at 10:04 pm

    The only people visiting will be those that already have a base here and need a way back in. Absolutely no chance in hell any fool is going to go through all those hoops for a holiday. Thai officials have absolutely zero idea of reality.

    • Avatar

      Gary

      August 31, 2020 at 7:50 am

      So very true, even thinking about moving to Mexico now, Thailand too hard.

  12. Avatar

    Burt Dekre

    August 30, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    What idiot goes to thailand to sit in expensive covid hotels and then be monitored when he / she spends his / her money in such an incredibly panicked attempt to get started on something that was already about to take place already in October 2019, very bad pressure already then tourists, probably moderately tired of all the scams, double pricing, etc. Start by offering free visas and do not think that you ksn sort out which ki want to spend in the country, pathetic so it stinks about it. Do it again and do it right. Decent, service (not in bars, massages etc) but in general because you are so dependent after all on tourists, on the contrary what the fat bud of the Minister of Health shouted out earlier, the biggest joke in the whole country, a real clown.

  13. Avatar

    Maverick

    August 31, 2020 at 7:33 am

    Any increase in tourists regardless of where they stay will help the Phuket economy, staff will be employed and that money finds its way back into the local economy so that’s a plus. However as has been pointed out 14 days in an executive prison will put short term tourists off, no doubt about that. So targeting the grey market (retirees ) or business people who can work remotely (software designers for example) can work. Cost effective quarantine can work for them and there will be thousands in Europe (and parts of US/Canada) who cannot get to warmer climes in Mediterranean or Mexico/Caribbean who would welcome a safe alternative which Thailand has created – there has been talk about a 9 month Visa which would be very pragmatic. In the meantime make it easier for long term residents already here to renew their visas.

  14. Avatar

    Ron

    August 31, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Covid numbers – 0.3224% (1/3 of a percent) of the worlds population has contracted the virus. Of those that have the virus 3.4% have died or 0.01084% of the worlds population. This virus will NEVER go away, it will always be with us, vaccine or not. We must take normal and reasonable precautions to get the world Rt down below 1.0, currently 1.3.

    Just an observation – Every day, almost 3,700 people (0.01732% annually) are killed globally in road traffic crashes involving cars, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, or pedestrians.

  15. Avatar

    Todd

    August 31, 2020 at 10:02 am

    No, the Phuket plan isn’t perfect. Yes, it will probably only appeal to long-stay tourists or retirees who have interests, family or property in Thailand. No, it won’t solve all of the problems Phuket is seeing,. But it is a first step, and that’s important,. The government needs to demonstrate that foreigners can be allowed back in without it resulting in mass infections. Yes, Thai people are way too frighted of Covid and many are not properly informed. But that’s the reality and so I think that this is a plan that should be supported, again as a first step.

    • Avatar

      Ron

      August 31, 2020 at 2:12 pm

      Well said. Being well educated and informed and not falling into the hysteria trap.

  16. Avatar

    Andre`

    August 31, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    Ingen som gidder og betale 320 000 bath for 14 dager karantene, bare tull dette her.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

How has Thailand avoided the worst of Covid-19? – VIDEO

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How has Thailand avoided the worst of Covid-19? – VIDEO | The Thaiger

We examine some of the reasons Thailand has been able to avoid the surges and 2nd waves of Covid-19. Whilst many countries are now suffering a 2nd and 3rd wave of the coronavirus, Thailand has locked itself in a bubble of its own making. Almost zero cases and any new cases coming from repatriates. Now the country has to figure out how to re-open its economy and borders, safely.

Why has Thailand, with a population greater than that of the UK, been largely spared the catastrophic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the nation and much of the world?

Social distancing is embedded in Thai culture – Thais rarely touch when greeting, preferring the prayer-like “wai” gesture to a handshake or embrace. Could this custom be at least partly responsible for the country’s low numbers?

There have been no overwhelmed hospitals in the country’s public hospital system. No dead bodies in the streets. No social media postings from frantic doctors or nurses. The country simply acted swiftly, and with a determined force.

Thailand was quick to adopt the use of facemasks, close schools and enforce social distancing on public transport, even before declaring a national state of emergency and curfew, sealing its borders and forbidding interprovincial travel. Is that what prevented the runaway transmission of the virus here? Is there a genetic component that makes the immune systems of Thais (and others in the Mekong River region) more resistant to the virus? Or is it some combination of all these factors that have insulated this country of 69 million?

One thing’s for sure, despite an influx of foreign visitors early in the year from countries badly hit by the virus, especially China, Thailand has recorded just 3,236 cases since January, 58 deaths and achieved a 95.5% recovery rate. As of today, there have been no cases of local transmission for about 7 weeks (although there’s been a steady flow of daily single-figure infections as Thais repatriate from overseas)

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Tourism

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at worldometer.info website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Visa amnesty runs to October 31 | Complete Thailand Travel Guide (September 2020)

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Visa amnesty runs to October 31 | Complete Thailand Travel Guide (September 2020) | The Thaiger

Latest update – September 29. The Thaiger updates information about travelling to and re-entering Thailand. Depending on where you’re coming from, your purpose for visiting Thailand and your country’s own Covid-19 travel restrictions, the situation is changing daily. If you are overseas and wish to come to Thailand your FIRST port of call must be the Royal Thai Embassy in your country before you make any bookings.

A new visa amnesty now runs until the end of October

A new visa amnesty was announced by the Thai PM and the CCSA yesterday afternoon. Foreigners who recently paid 1,900 baht for a 30 day visa extension (before September 26) are now clear to stay in Thailand until November 30 at no extra cost, but those foreigners need to report to immigration to get their visa stamp corrected.

At this stage, although announced and approved by the CCSA and the Thai PM, the new amnesty has not been entered into the Royal Gazette but is expected to be in the next 24 hours.

The announcement follows a decision confirmed late yesterday by the CCSA to issue another grace period for foreigners stranded in Thailand, until October 31. Under the new regulation, 60 day visa extensions will be issued to those who are unable to travel back to their home country. The reasons could be lack of flights, problems with Covid in their home country, medical reasons or something else that prevent you from leaving the country.

Those who received a 30 day extension will need to visit their local immigration office and get the correct stamp that will indicate the new expiration date in their passport, according to a story in The Phuket News. In the past, foreigners have needed to present a letter from their country’s embassy requesting an extension, but Immigration Bureau Deputy Commissioner Pornchai Kuntee says “letters from embassies may not be needed.”

Tell us about the new long stay ‘special tourist visa’, the STV.

Here are the strict basic requirements of the new STV…

• Foreign visitors will be required to have a Covid-19 test taken 72 hours before, departure

• They will have to buy Covid-19 health insurance

• Sign a letter of consent agreeing to comply with the Thai government’s Covid-19 measures

• Will be for a minimum 90 days (there have been some reports of a minimum 30 days), renewable twice, to a total of 20 days

• The visa will be limited to people from ‘low-risk’ countries although that list has not been announced

• Successful applicants will have to complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine at a state-registered quarantine/hotel

• STV travellers must travel by charter plane and every flight carrying them must receive permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or CCSA

The new 90 day special tourist visa would be able to be extended twice, for 90 days each time. So, a total of 270 days (around 9 months). It was also announced that travellers would have to arrive on charter flights only, further pushing up the price of potential travel back to Thailand.

“Visitors can arrive for tourism or health services, and they can stay at alternative state quarantine facilities, specific areas or at hospitals that function as quarantine facilities. Our public health system is amongst the best in the world and people can have confidence in it.”

The new ‘STV’ (Special Tourist Visa) which will cost 2,000 baht and will last for 90 days each. The new visa regulation will be in effect until September 30, 2021 and may be extended beyond that time.

The government noted that it doesn’t have the ability to fully re-open to tourism at the moment as they have to be able to process incoming visitors and find approved locations for them to serve their 14 day quarantine.”The target is to welcome 100-300 visitors a week, or up to 1,200 people a month, and generate income of about 1 billion baht a month.”

Thai officials have also said they will only accept tourists from “low risk” countries, without specifying what those countries are.

On Friday, September 18, a director at the Department of Disease Control, said that foreign tourists will have to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to travel.

The Thaiger will update the details of the new long stay tourist visa as soon as the become available.

The Special Tourist Visa will be formerly approved Monday. Read more HERE.

How is Thailand doing compared to the rest of the world with it’s re-opening to tourists?

The UN World Tourism Organisation has published its latest update on the state of the world’s re-openings in the Covid-era. 53% of the world’s tourist destinations have now started easing travel restrictions government’s imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UNWTO reports acknowledges that many destinations “remain cautious” and some are even re-closing borders and tightening up restrictions again.

It’s the 7th edition of the “Covid-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism”and identifies an ongoing global trend to gradually restart the world’s tourism machine. The report analyses restrictions by governments up to September 1. The research covers a total of 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) have now eased their travel restrictions – that’s an increase of 28 since 19 July. Of these, two have lifted all restrictions, while the remaining 113 continue to have certain restrictive measures in place.

• Another stand-out stat was that in advanced economies, 79% of tourism destinations had already started easing restrictions. In emerging economies, less than half, just 47% of destinations, have started the process.

• 64% of those destinations which have eased have a “high or medium dependence” on airlines to deliver international tourists to their location. Island destinations are particularly at risk at this time as the air lift is critical to their tourist success.

• 43% of all worldwide destinations continue to have their borders completely closed to all tourism, of which 27 destinations have had their borders “completely closed” for at least 7 months.

• Half of all destinations in the survey, with borders completely closed to tourism, are listed as being among the “World’s Most Vulnerable Countries”. They include 10 Small Island Developing States, one Least Developed Country and three Land-Locked Developing Countries.

Should I use a visa agent to extend my visa?

There are plenty of ads being posted at this time offering magic extensions to visas and opportunities to stay in Thailand after September 26. Please be aware that some of these alleged visa agents are scams. There are also plenty of good visa agents who will be able to provide you with advice and solutions, at a cost, allowing you to remain in the country.

If you do wish to contact a visa agent at this time make sure you get a referral from a friend, visit their office in person or ask plenty of questions and check their bonafides. Do not start sending money to accounts until you have seen some paperwork or evidence that they are able to provide you with a legal and professional service. Caveat emptor!

I had a retirement visa and have lived in Thailand for many years. When can I return?

Foreigners with permanent residences who have been stranded overseas for the past 6 months, and long-term foreign residents (retirement visa), can now re-enter Thailand.

Both groups still have to undergo the mandatory state-controlled 14 day quarantine.

If you believe you fall into either of these categories, contact your local Thai Embassy or consulate to discuss your circumstances BEFORE you purchase a ticket or make any other arrangements.

Is it safe in Thailand at the moment?

Yes. No less safe than usual and certainly there has been no civil unrest that would make you ponder your personal safety beyond the usual precautions you would take anywhere in the world. The current student protests are fairly limited and are publicised ahead of time so you can avoid those situations. Whilst there has been some outbursts against foreigners from a Thai politician and a few stressed-out locals, the situation for foreigners remains safe and secure at this time.

What happened to the Phuket Model?

It was a non-starter after the government encountered resistance from some in Phuket. It was also not well received by travellers and many in the local hospitality industry.

At this stage, a model to allow limited tourists to re-enter the country, on extended tourist visas, with some restrictions, is being hammered out by the CCSA in conjunction with the Public Health Department, TAT and Ministry of Sports and Tourism. It’s called the Special Tourist Visa and is aimed at high-wealth tourists with plenty of time, as the visa has a minimum 90 day stay requirement.

Are there any Facebook pages where I can share my story about wanting to come back to Thailand?

The ‘Love Is Not Tourism Thailand’ Facebook page, which includes families torn apart by the pandemic, is calling on the Thai government to help reunite their families.

“We’re asking the government to issue visas or allow entry for family members and lovers to reunite with each other for humanitarian reasons. Evidence such as a passport with an entry stamp into Thailand, photos, and text messages should be able to verify their unions.”

I have been stranded in Thailand since April. Now I have run out of money and don’t know what to do.

This is a really difficult situation and you’d be well advised to contact your friends and family, and advise them of your predicament. Also, you MUST contact your country’s embassy or consulate to alert them of the situation. They will at least have information about repatriating you to your home country or perhaps other options that may be available.

Just hoping your situation is going to improve won’t work. Get as much information as you can about your options. And hopefully your family or friends can send you some funds to tide you over during this crazy time. Chock dee krub!

The airlines are selling tickets to fly to Thailand now. Should I buy one?

No. Don’t buy a ticket for a flight to Thailand until you have ALL the paperwork required, have discussed your trip with your local embassy and you have been approved for travel. Why the airlines keep selling tickets, for flights that will be cancelled, is a mystery.

There are currently no plans to open Thailand’s borders for international tourism beyond proposals for a limited opening for tourism into Phuket called the Phuket Model. It was proposed to start in October but no decisions have been made.

Which leads us to the next question….

When will Thailand open its borders for international tourism?

Both the Civil Aviation Authority and a Deputy Governor from the TAT have stated that it is unlikely that the borders will be reopened for general tourism until 2021. But there is now the new Special Tourist Visa which allows tourists to visit for 90 days at a time (extendable twice for a total of 270 days), at a cost of 2,000 baht per application or extension. There are still quite draconian restrictions on the new visa, including the 14 day mandatory quarantine and lots of paperwork. Your starting point would be to contact your Royal Thai Embassy in your country.

Would a Thailand Elite Visa solve my problems?

Yes and no. The Elite Visa program is an excellent and convenient means of staying in Thailand with few problems, allowing you to avoid visits to Immigration and most of the paperwork. But it’s an expensive up-front costs and, for now, there is a 3-4 month waiting period to process new applications.

At this time, there is also a limit on the number of people, on various visas, they are allowing to re-enter Thailand each day. But if you have the cash, it’s definitely an option as people on the Thailand Elite Visa are currently allowed to re-enter the Kingdom.

Our flight has a transit stop in Thailand. Can we get off the plane and spend a day in Bangkok?

No. At this time all transits require passengers to remain on the plane. There may be some situations where they deplane passengers but you will be restricted to a section of the airport.

Can I get a job, get a new visa and stay in Thailand?

Maybe, possibly. Jobs for foreigners are thin on the ground at the moment. Outside of teaching English (there will always be jobs for English teachers in Thailand), most companies are cutting staff right now, rather than employing. You would need to secure a letter of offer from your new employer and visit you local immigration office to discuss the matter urgently, before September 26.

Can I fly back to my country and get a new Non B visa, and then return to Thailand?

In theory, yes. But it will take some good planning and a dose of luck for the plan to be successful. Theo did it… HERE’s the link to his story. You will certainly need to do a 14 day quarantine upon your return and the capricious nature of various embassy and immigration officials could make the many steps to get all the paperwork a nightmare.

What about other tropical holiday spots?

Island economies, dependent on tourism – from Bali in Indonesia, to Hawaii in the US – grapple with the pandemic, which has brought global travel to a virtual halt. World aviation has dropped by 97% (last month compared year-on-year). Re-opening to tourists has led to the resurgence of infection in some places like the Caribbean island of Aruba, and governments are fearful of striking the wrong balance between public health and economic reality. Even The Maldives, which confidently re-opened for tourism, has had a recent surge of new cases and forcing the government to rethink its plans.

Ibiza and the other popular Spanish party islands, are also devastated by the current Covid situation.

Can I travel to Thailand for medical Tourism?

Yes. Even though Thailand’s borders are still closed to most travel, including tourism, there are some select groups being allowed back into the Kingdom. Medical tourists are one of those groups but, for most countries, ONLY for urgent or emergency medical matters. Foreign medical tourists are now permitted to apply to come to Thailand for medical treatment with strict disease control measures being put in place.

BUT, and there’s always a ‘but’ at the moment, some countries will not permit its citizens to travel outside of their home countries, even for medical emergencies. In all cases, you would need to consult your local Royal Thai Embassy to find out if you are eligible, before you book a flight or sing a contract with a medical provider in Thailand.

Under the CCSA regulations, foreign medical and wellness tourists have to arrive by air to ensure effective disease control, not via land border checkpoints at this stage.

“Those seeking cosmetic surgery and infertility treatments will be allowed to enter the country. Those seeking Covid-19 treatment are barred.”

If you’d like to investigate coming to Thailand at this time, go to MyMediTravel to browse procedures and check out your options.

Spokesperson Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin says the visitors must have an appointment letter from a doctor in Thailand and entry certificates issued by Thai embassies across the globe. People wanting to visit Thailand for medical procedures at this time will need to contact the Thai Embassy in their country to organise the visa and paperwork. Thailand’s major hospitals will provide potential candidates with an appointment letter.

They will also need to produce proof that they tested negative for Covid-19 before their arrival. Once in Thailand they will be tested again and will required to stay at the medical facility for at least 14 days, during which they will be able to start their chosen treatments.

The CCSA says that medical procedures will only be allowed for foreigners at hospitals that have been registered to provide the treatments and have proven their ability to contain any potential outbreak. Potential patients will only be allowed to bring a total of 3 family members or caretakers during their visit to Thailand. Caretakers will have to go through the same screening procedures as the patient.

Embassies and participating hospitals will be able to provide more information about procedures, facilities, paperwork requirements and arrival options.

Again, MAKE SURE you consult the Royal Thai Embassy in your home country before proceeding with any medical tourism pans.

Travel advice from the UK government

From 4 July, Thailand is exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential international travel. This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.

However, the requirement to self-isolate on return to the UK from Thailand remains in place. See guidance on entering or returning to the UK.

The following advice within Thailand remains in place. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to areas within the provinces on the Thailand-Malaysia border, including…

  • Pattani
  • Yala
  • Narathiwat
  • Southern Songkhla province. This does not include areas north of and including the A43 road between Hat Yai and Sakom, and areas north-west of and including the train line which runs between Hat Yai and Pedang Besar.

Travel to Thailand is subject to entry restrictions.

  • At present only certain categories of foreign nationals are permitted to enter or transit Thailand.
  • If you’re eligible to enter, you will be subject to a 14-day state quarantine at a Thai government-designated facility at your own expense. If suspected of carrying Covid-19, you may be denied entry into the country
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