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Vietnam extends 15 day visa-free travel for some countries

The Thaiger

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Vietnam extends 15 day visa-free travel for some countries | The Thaiger
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Vietnam’s tourism operators are welcoming the Vietnam government’s decision to extend the visa-free stays for citizens from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Denmark and Belarus for another three years. The eight countries have already enjoyed visa exemption (for a stay up to 15 days) since 2015, but it was due to expire at the end of this year.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has announced the extension of the 15 day visa-free stay to those countries.

European countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Belarus remain emerging tourism markets for Vietnam. Finland supplied just 18,826 visits during the 11 months.

China is the main source of tourists, whilst South Korea is the second-largest feeder of tourists with 3.86 million visits for 2019, up toNovember this year. Japan is the third largest with 872,255 visits in the same period. Russian has delivered 585,647 visitors over the 11 months.

But Europeans tend to spend more at around US$1,316 per trip compared to US$900 for other regions, as they stay for longer periods of time. The Chinese tend to spend the most per capita, per day according to VNAT’s data.

The Vietnamese travel industry is welcoming the extensions, but it says that 15 days is too short, especially for Europeans. The travel industry is calling for 30 days, or at least an easy extension to the 15 day visa without the visitor having to depart the country.

Vietnam provides visa-free entry to just 24 countries and territories, and of that total, nine are ASEAN neighbours. Indonesia grants visa-free travel to 169 nationalities, while the figure for Singapore is 158, Malaysia 155 and Thailand 61.

SOURCE: TTRWeekly.com | VN Express

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Health Ministry teams up with Agoda to offer quarantine hotel packages

Maya Taylor

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Health Ministry teams up with Agoda to offer quarantine hotel packages | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Anyone planning a visit or a return to Thailand can now book their quarantine stay through Agoda, following a deal between the Public Health Ministry and the hotel booking platform. Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutecha announced the agreement yesterday, at a launch event at the Mövenpick Hotel BDMS Wellness Resort in Bangkok, in the company of Tares Krassanairawiwong from the Department of Health Service Support, and Agoda CEO, John Brown.

Agoda was founded in Phuket, Thailand in 1998 but now has its head offices in Singapore.

Sathit says 37 hotels offering alternative state quarantine and alternative local state quarantine have already joined the first phase of the scheme. And, with the possibility of the quarantine period being reduced from 14 days to 10 for some arrivals, he’s urging more properties to sign up.

“Thailand has a better track record in virus containment, but as long as other countries are still facing the spread of the virus, preventive measures, including quarantine under the ministry’s supervision, remain necessary and that means more ASQ facilities as well.”

The Agoda booking platform allows people coming to Thailand to choose and book their quarantine package and is available in 39 languages with around-the-clock support. Brown has thanked the Health Ministry for the initiative, saying it will prove helpful for those planning to visit or return to the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Tares says Thailand’s 113 ASQ-approved hotels are expected to attract around 30,000 tourists and generate over 1 billion baht for the economy.

Booking.com now also has some ASQ hotels in its inventory.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

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Tourism

International travel in 2021 is unpredictable – Tourism Authority of Thailand

Caitlin Ashworth

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International travel in 2021 is unpredictable – Tourism Authority of Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Aleksei Zaitcev

The future of Thailand’s travel industry is “opaque”, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn. For once the usually over-optimistic TAT has made a completely honest assessment of the current situation.

“There are unpredictable factors that come into play when trying to determine how 2021 will pan out, like the availability of a Covid-19 vaccine, the number of coronavirus infections and travel restrictions. The tourism sector might not have what’s considered a normal revenue, at least 80% of the pre-pandemic level, until 2022.”

“We set 2021 as a year of adjustment before seeing a leap in 2022. We forecast Thailand will achieve 2.5 trillion baht in tourism revenue in 2022, or 80-90% of 2019, which recorded 3 trillion baht.”

In reality, any large tourism recovery to pre-Covid numbers could take a lot longer.

Yuthasak says he met with an official from the Chinese Embassy and says that large groups of Chinese tourists, who made up around 10 million, or 25%, of foreign arrivals in 2019, will probably not travel to Thailand until a coronavirus vaccine is widely available. It’s unclear how long it will take to commercially produce a vaccine and distribute it across the world.

A rebound in international tourism is expected around the third quarter of 2021 or in 2022, according to the World Tourism Organisation, based on the current situation but, learning from this year’s events, recoveries in any industry are highly speculative.

For Thailand, Yuthasak says the country might see a moderate number of international guests around the second and third quarter of 2021 with more tourists visiting during the summer when the spread of the virus is considered to slow down due to the hot weather.

SOURCE:Bangkok Post

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Tourism

Former WTO director cautions against re-opening Thailand too quickly

Maya Taylor

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Former WTO director cautions against re-opening Thailand too quickly | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bao Menglong on Unsplash

The former director general of the World Trade Organisation has issued a caution against Thailand throwing open its borders too early. Supachai Panitchpakdi says Covid-19 is still very much a threat, pointing to other countries that appear trapped in a cycle of easing restrictions, followed by renewed lockdowns. His comments come as England emerges from a national lockdown, only for many areas to find themselves subject to even tougher measures, at least until Christmas.

According to a Nation Thailand report, Supachai says the cycle of lockdown/open up/lockdown that’s being seen in many Western countries is not just damaging their economies, it’s also leading to more infections and deaths. He warns that re-opening Thailand’s borders too quickly could have long-term negative impacts for the Kingdom.

“Thailand should gradually open the country, because human resources are the most important factor. It takes about 20 to 30 years for human development, and if those people die, it will be very difficult to restore the lost human resources.”

Within Thailand there is a polarised view as to whether Thailand should be broadly re-opening its borders or not. Successive polls show that the Thai population is, generally, suspicious about re-opening too soon, especially whilst parts of the rest of the world are still trying to contain their infection rates. On the other hand Thailand’s tourism and hospitality industry has been decimated with millions unemployed.

Supachai’s comments come as the government has tentatively opened the borders to foreign tourists, albeit at a significant cost and inconvenience to those who might want to visit. There is both a long term STV, special tourist visa, and a modified general tourist visa for up to 60 days. In both cases there is currently a 14 day mandatory quarantine to be served and a number of other paperwork hurdles to overcome.

Supachai says Thailand’s economy is likely to shrink by 5 or 6% this year, a change from the previous forecast of 7 or 8%. He adds that he’s hopeful the economy and exports will recover next year, pointing out that if a quick recovery is seen in China and ASEAN nations, it will help Thai exports. He warns that an appreciating baht could threaten Thailand’s exports and that exporters will need to look at ways of increasing their competitive edge.

He has also called for a hike in interest rates, pointing out that the low rate of 0.5% is having a detrimental effect on people’s savings. Another fallout from the pandemic is an increase in household debt, with Supachai expressing concern that Thai people are getting into debt at a much younger age compared to the trend in other countries.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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