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Taiwan challenges Thai government over new visa requirements for their citizens

Maya Taylor

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The Taiwanese government says it’s concerned about new Thai government visa rules being imposed on its citizens travelling to Thailand.

A new application scheme launched on November 29 by the Thailand Trade and Economic Office in Taipei now requires applicants to show evidence of sufficient funds for their trip. The requirement, which asks Taiwanese nationals to submit bank statements from the previous three months, has angered some, with a member of the Kuomintang opposition party saying it’s akin to treating Taiwan as a third world country.

Taiwanese applicants are also required to apply online and then make an appointment to submit their documents in person, whereas previously they could apply in person at the TTEO without any prior online application or appointment.

Members of the opposition are calling on the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to register a formal protest with the Thai government against the new application procedure, pointing out that Thai citizens visiting Taiwan are granted visa-free entry.

The Taiwanese foreign affairs officials, for their part, say they’ve already notified the Thai government of its concerns and asked for clarification on the more stringent guidelines. They also insist that visa-free privileges granted to Thai citizens have boosted tourist numbers and business and education exchanges between both countries, but did not provide any numbers in support of the claim.

“We have asked the Thai side to clarify the new process and will continue to urge it to improve the convenience of visa applications for Taiwanese.”

Meanwhile, the Thai representative office in Taipei says the new visa application process is not restricted to Taiwanese nationals but applicable to other nationalities too, including British and French.

An official from the TTEO says that while tourists from some countries may be able to enter Thailand visa-free, they still need to follow the online process should they require a visa, whether that be for education, business or marriage.

SOURCE: The Nation

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Travel bubble talks to pick back up once Covid-19 is under control

Thaiger

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Stock photo by Bao Menglong for Unsplash

Once the Covid-19 outbreak is under control, Thailand will pick back up on travel bubble discussions with countries such as Vietnam, Singapore, Laos and Malaysia. Travel bubbles could start as soon as October if the daily Covid-19 count significantly decreases by the end of the month.

The country’s Covid-19 immunisation plan needs to be accelerated and the daily Covid-19 count needs to drop, Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, recently told the Bangkok Post.

“We have to speed up inoculations, particularly in Bangkok, to achieve herd immunity by the fourth quarter. The number of daily infections should be below 200 by the end of this month to restore international tourism confidence.”

Thailand has experienced a drastic spike in Covid-19 infections, with more than 50,000 confirmed infections since April 1, making up the majority of the cumulative case count since the start of the pandemic last year. Deaths related to Covid-19 increased from just under 100 at the end of March to more than 450.

Phiphat says Thailand needs the situation to be under control before resuming talks with other countries about potential travel bubbles because no country will want to make a deal while the infection rate is high.

SOURCE: VN Express

 

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Tourism

Covid-19 third wave cuts Thai domestic flights predictions by 38%

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Airports are sparse with domestic flight travel predictions down 38%. (via Snappy Goat)

The Aeronautical Radio of Thailand is predicting a 38% drop in travel by domestic flights due to the effect of the third wave of Covid-19. Aerothai is a department under the Ministry of Transport that provides aeronautical communication and air traffic control in Thailand. With Covid-19 experiencing a rapid spread beginning in April and not yet under control, infections across all of Thailand’s 77 provinces are projected to drastically hamper local travel until at least September.

The fiscal year, beginning last October, was originally predicted to have almost 519,000 domestic flight. But Aerothai has now reduced those figures down 38% to just over 323,000 flights in Thailand. The executive vice president for operations of Aerothai said that by the second half of April domestic flights had been severely reduced despite remaining relatively stable in early April.

The Civil Aviation Authority has also added increased restrictions on the way passengers are carried, adding another layer of difficulty for the domestic airlines who have slashed their schedules after having a bumper Songkran holiday period and were looking forward to better times ahead.

Flight reductions were a result of attempts to reduce and contain the spread of Covid-19 by implementing strict travel and safety measures. While domestic travel was strongly affected by Thailand’s second wave of Covid-19 at the beginning of 2021, the current wave is much worse and Aerothai predicts domestic flights will reach their lowest point by the end of May.

An expectation of recovery beginning next month hinges on international flights starting to slowly creep back into Thailand. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has loosened the restrictions for international travel in preparation for the government’s plan to relaunch the tourism industry in key hotspots of Thailand like Phuket and Koh Samui in July. Aerothai is hoping that by August domestic flights will return to the levels seen at the end of 2020 before the second wave of Covid-19, with about 1,095 daily flights.

Aerothai has been tracking flight statistics since it was founded in 1948 by a group of airlines with the approval of the Royal Thai Government. In 1963 the government took on a majority stake in the company from the founding airlines and converted it to a state enterprise operating under the Ministry of Transport.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Tourism

Thailand ploughs ahead with plans for re-opening tourist areas

Tim Newton

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The Thai government says they’re pressing ahead with plans to waive the current mandatory quarantine for vaccinated visitors to Bangkok and and 5 other major tourist destinations from October this year as an effort to reboot the country’s battered tourism industry.

Dr. Traisulee Traisoranakul from the CCSA says the new measures will provide easier access to the main tourist locations like Pattaya, Phang Nga, Koh Samui, Krabi and Bangkok from October 1.

Phuket tourism and government officials also maintain that they are preparing to open up to vaccinated travellers in 7 weeks, in a pilot ‘sandbox’ scheme. The positive moves forward come at the same time local officials announced a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days for visitors from outside the province, starting May 14, to replace the rapid antigen test. The quarantine period would be for all arrivals who hadn’t been fully vaccinated or could provide a negative PCR Covid test within the past 72 hours.

The ‘quarantine-free’ is the key change to Thailand’s new re-opening policy but it remains to be seen what paperwork or current restrictions may stay in place – nothing has been announced. The questions of who will visit or what is left open for them to enjoy when they arrive, is still all up in the air.

Meanwhile the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, reiterated this week that the island would have to register zero new infections before any quarantine-free re-opening would be able to occur, adding to the earlier provision that 70% of the island’s population will need to be vaccinated as well. As of today, only 22% of Phuket’s population have been vaccinated but a new round of registrations is happening in the next week. Phuket is way ahead of the rest of Thailand with vaccinations at this stage.

SOURCE: NBT

 

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