“Administrative issues” delayed Special Tourist Visa flight

PHOTO: Facebook: Phuket International Airport - HKT

A senior tourism official told Reuters reporters that “administrative issues” are the reason for the delayed trip of foreigners on the Special Tourist Visa. Other officials claimed the postponement was done to help ease Covid-19 fears for Thai tourists planning on travelling to Phuket for the annual Vegetarian Festival later this month.

A group of 120 to 150 foreigners on the new long stay visa were supposed to fly from Guangzhou, China to Phuket yesterday after a 6 month ban on international tourists. Covid-19 mobile testing units were even sent to the Phuket International airport this week and are there to test foreign tourists when they enter the country.

The delay is due to issues in the process for applying and issuing the Special Tourist Visas, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

There has been confusion with a number of reports over the past week about when the flight will arrive, some saying the flight would arrive on October 8 and others saying it has been postponed.

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Both the Phuket governor and the National Security Council secretary general say the flight has been rescheduled and will arrive after the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. They say many domestic tourists who plan on attending the festival fear the foreign tourists could spread the virus.

The scheme has left more questions than answers. Reuters says Chinese media has questioned the identity of the tourists and were unable to confirm any Thailand travel bookings among agents in Guangzhou.

A report from the respected Thai business journal Thansettakji says the tourists are actually business travellers under tours organised by the Thailand Longstay Company. They said the delay is due to “many points in the process.”

It seems like Thai authorities are not on the same page. Even the Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew said in a previous report that he wasn’t even formally told about arrangements and that he’d “seen the news in the media.”

The Phuket Tourism Association President Bhummikitti Rujtaengam told Reuters the they have not been notified about the foreign tourist arrivals.

“Phuket is ready, but we need clarity. Where are they from? How many? And where will they stay?”

SOURCE: Reuters

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Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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