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Plan on the table to allow Europe’s ‘snowbirds’ into Thailand for up to 9 months

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Another day, another ‘plan’ flown up the pole to see if it will catch some wind. This time a prominent health provider claims the government is developing a new ‘visa’ for sunseekers. If adopted it could allow foreigners to stay in Thailand on a long-stay visa for up to 9 months. Nothing has been finalised as yet but Boon Vanasin, the chairman of Thonburi Healthcare Group, says the special visa would help reboot the country’s devastated tourism industry.

Although Thailand has allowed domestic travel, and provided stimulus packages to encourage Thais to travel, there is currently no plan in place to allow foreign tourists back into the country.

Thonburi Healthcare Group is the country’s third largest private hospital firm, which runs hospitals and retirement homes.

In this development of the original “Phuket Plan”, long-term visitors would start their ‘holiday’ with the mandatory 14 day quarantine, plus testing, in Phuket. Then they’d be clear to roam around the island for their third week. After 3 weeks on the island the visitors would be free to travel to other parts of Thailand. Dr Boon says he has “direct knowledge of the government’s plan”. He said members of the government were keen to start the program before the northern winter kicks in.

Dr. Boon has good reason to hope the government plan is approved – around 90% of the Thonburi Healthcare Group’s customers before the Covid-19 border closures were international.

The ‘longer’ short-term visa would offer a partial lease of life to the country’s tourism and hospitality industries – both almost obliterated after 5 months without any foreign visitors. Thailand, which last year attracted nearly 40 million foreign visits, has attracted zero tourists since the borders were closed in early April. Tourist magnets like Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui have watched their economies almost vanish despite the government’s best efforts to promote domestic tourism.

The new plan being studied in Thailand would, in theory, make it possible for millions of ‘snowbirds’ from Europe’s northern climates, who usually spend their winters in warmer Mediterranean and Caribbean climates, to look at “safe” Thailand as an alternative this year.

Dr. Boon claimed his company had been contacted by European retirement communities that could realise up to 50,000 seniors heading to Thailand for the coming northern winter. He says the government should target the retirees and high-income earners who could value-add during the visit to the country.

“Many seniors don’t want to spend their time in a cold harsh winter. They want tropical weather.”

Thai Airways International said it would operate at least two such flights a month starting in late November to connect Phuket with countries including Denmark, Germany and the UK.

But it’s unclear if the government either intends to allow so many foreigners into Thailand at this stage, or even if they have the capacity to handle the numbers safely and ensure that registered hotels are able to track the guests. The week the CCSA announced they were considering plans to lift the border gate to allow long-stay visitors and foreigners who own property in Thailand. But they acknowledged that this would only be “hundreds” of people and not solve the country’s tourism woes.

More than 6.7 million Europeans visited Thailand in 2019 , contributing some 461 billion baht to the economy. The European contingent made up 17% of Thailand’s total foreign visits and 24% of foreign spending. The expedition to places like Phuket and Koh Samui became a regular ‘winter’ break lasting 2 weeks to several months for the Northern European visitors.

Plan on the table to allow Europe's 'snowbirds' into Thailand for up to 9 months | News by Thaiger

The Thai PM has acknowledged the parlous situation for the country’s tourism destinations and the millions of people that are not only unemployed but now running out of savings as well. Whilst there appears to be some urgency to officially announce some sort of pilot scheme, no firm details have been announced about any of these travel bubble or limited-access plans.

HERE‘s all the latest FAQs about coming back into Thailand.

 

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    All about $.

  2. Avatar

    barry

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    Interesting – why not offer foreigners currently in Thailand, who want to stay there and have the means to the chance of getting such a visa?

    At the moment all such people in Thailand are scrambling and paying up to 70,000 THB to try to get onto non-O and non-ED visas, which is distorting their original purpose since the main motivation is simply to stay in Thailand and paralegal since there has been no clear indication from the Thai government of allowing such onshore changes.

    – Why not also create a paying longterm visa (6 months?) like Indonesia’s B211 Social Visa, allowing people to renew for a 6 month stay.

    • Avatar

      Nu

      Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 6:20 pm

      Paying 70k for non O visa. Hahaha that’s a really false information.
      Is only 1900 bath for 1 year. Do I miss the catch here? By the way if you
      50 years old you can apply and get one year visa for 1900 bath. If you need
      Help will free to comments here I’ll help you .

      • Avatar

        barry

        Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 10:31 am

        No, not false, it’s what the agents are charging Nu – Look into it.
        Why do people need to use agents rather than go directly to immigration you might ask? Simply because there has been no official amendment to immigration legislation, unlike in Indonesia, for example, to simplify onshore applications. Which means that it is still impossible in quite a few cases.

        The non-O I’m refering to is not a retirement visa, but a non-O volunteer visa, which, along with the non-ED, is what agents are selling to tourists and others foreigner in Thailand who want to stay in the country by getting on a long-stay visa.

        In my case and my wifes,. we’re under 50, and were on a non-B work visa, now expired, like our work permits.
        I would like to stay a few months more in Thailand rather than go back to my passport country in winter given the dire situation there, not work, just a long snowbird holiday if you like.

        Agents are quoting a average of 15000 THB just to get such a visa change processed, which is absolutely grey area and not garanteed since you can’t officially change from non-B to another long stay visa in the country, unfortunately. The only official amendments have been to allow in-country change from tourist to non-B for teaching positions, which is quite specific.

        Now if I was in Indonesia (where I was supposed to be working since May if it wasn’t for the pandemic), similarly on an expired KITAS (+ work+ stay permit), implemented regulation changes would have allowed me to apply for a onshore social visa, valid for up to 6 months (potentially more in the current situation).

        This visa is a long stay with “no strings attached”, ie you do not have to be working, retired, taking a course or volunteering. Tourists can of course also apply for this social budaya 211 visa, and this is all because of the pandemic.

        I wish Thailand would let people who want to stay here during this worldwide pandemic, and have the means to do so, a real working option to apply for a 100% legal visa, rather than grey area arrangements through agents like non-ED or non-O volunteer…

        hope this clarifies the point I was making.

      • Avatar

        barry

        Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 10:33 am

        No, not false, it’s what the agents are charging Nu – Look into it. H
        Why do people need to use agents rather than go directly to immigration you might ask? Simply because there has been no official amendment to immigration legislation, unlike in Indonesia, for example, to simplify onshore applications. Which means that it is still impossible in quite a few cases. This is the catch you’re missing.

        The non-O I’m refering to is not a retirement visa, but a non-O volunteer visa, which, along with the non-ED, is what agents are selling to tourists and others foreigner in Thailand who want to stay in the country by getting on a long-stay visa.

        In my case and my wifes,. we’re under 50, and were on a non-B work visa, now expired, like our work permits.
        I would like to stay a few months more in Thailand rather than go back to my passport country in winter given the dire situation there, not work, just a long snowbird holiday if you like.

        Agents are quoting a average of 15000 THB just to get such a visa change processed, which is absolutely grey area and not garanteed since you can’t officially change from non-B to another long stay visa in the country, unfortunately. The only official amendments have been to allow in-country change from tourist to non-B for teaching positions, which is quite specific.

        Now if I was in Indonesia (where I was supposed to be working since May if it wasn’t for the pandemic), similarly on an expired KITAS (+ work+ stay permit), implemented regulation changes would have allowed me to apply for a onshore social visa, valid for up to 6 months (potentially more in the current situation).

        This visa is a long stay with “no strings attached”, ie you do not have to be working, retired, taking a course or volunteering. Tourists can of course also apply for this social budaya 211 visa, and this is all because of the pandemic.

        I wish Thailand would let people who want to stay here during this worldwide pandemic, and have the means to do so, a real working option to apply for a 100% legal visa, rather than grey area arrangements through agents like non-ED or non-O volunteer…

        hope this clarifies the point I was making.

      • Avatar

        Gabby

        Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 6:41 pm

        How’s that? Are you talking about a retiree visa?

        • Avatar

          barry

          Monday, August 31, 2020 at 7:36 pm

          No Gabby, not a retiree visa as I’m under 50 – Non-ED or Non-O Volunteer is what the agents are offering for somewhat grey-area onshore “conversions”

      • Avatar

        TS

        Monday, August 31, 2020 at 8:26 am

        Stuckees are paying agents up to 20-70k to TRY and get non-Os. Yes marriage & retirement visas are supposedly 1,900 legally @ immigration. But one needs to get the non-O first-OUTSIDE Thailand. As is stands now, nearly impossible to get back in. Now you know the catch

  3. Avatar

    Nu

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    And ? Is that wrong? Expected and thinking to generate income to our own country?
    Why ppl working or simple why are you choose to stay in Thailand? I think is all about $
    55555 .. very funny !

  4. Avatar

    Over it

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Yes, but I’m on my yacht stuck in Indonesia with my Thai partner,0 totally isolated virus free and we still can’t come home?

  5. Avatar

    murika

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    so anyone will be able to stay for 9 month at a time on equivalent of a tourist visa, meanwhile people with thai family or people who work legally in Thailand have to provide tons of documents and a gestapo interrogation in order to stay a year ! with a year worth of salary stuck in the bank and need to provide a TM30 form for every movements, all they want is spending tourist and no expat, i will from now on travel 3 month a year then come to my home in thailand on a 9 month tourist visa, witch mean no tax payment to the thais and no more difficult visa to do…

  6. Avatar

    Thomas

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    Where can I buy some of the stuff they are all smoking? They talk so long about the medicine to prescribe to the patient, that the patient will be dead by the time the decision is finalized.

  7. Avatar

    Dirty farang

    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 12:32 am

    Thai bye bye…

  8. Avatar

    rinky stingpiece

    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    The whole Thai visa situation is so much in need of reform. We need to see reciprocal right to work and start business and indefinite leave to remain for British spouses of Thais just like Thais enjoy in Britain. People will spend and invest far more in Thailand if it’s cheap and easy to stay longer, stop milking farang for money with bureaucracy and offer something worth buying, and benefit from what farang can offer thailand.

  9. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    Yes as the post states: they are running a new plan up the flagpole to see it will catch some wind.
    But it is just wind – the plan I mean

    • Avatar

      TS

      Monday, August 31, 2020 at 8:30 am

      Throwing s#@* at the wall to see if it sticks. But its still a load of s

  10. Avatar

    liam

    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    You can die of covid, but you can’t live without work and freedom.

    must change the visa procedure , for each month you pay 1500 bath up to 6 months.

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