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First batch of Special Tourist Visa arrivals for Phuket ‘postponed’, no refunds

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If you were a traveller, trying to get accurate information about how and when you could return to Thailand, you’d be rightfully confused. So are we. Now it emerges that the arrival of the first Special Tourist Visa travellers, headed for Phuket, has been postponed at least until the end of the month. Scheduled charter flights for Scandinavian and Chinese travellers have been pushed forward to at least the end of October. Then again, the Thai Health Minister has said that the first plane is, indeed, arriving today.

The Thai government first proposed, then confirmed, details about a new, highly regulated Special Tourist Visa, the STV. Then it was announced that the first ‘batch’ of STV tourists would arrive from Scandinavian countries and China in October and November, in Phuket. Then the Phuket Governor announced that he hadn’t been formally told about the arrangements and that he’d “read it in the local media”. That was followed up by an announcement that the first arrivals would be delayed until after the end of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, October 25.

Just as the first passengers were scheduled to arrive, the arrival dates have been shuffled forward again as, according to local Phuket tourism officials, “preparation for receiving foreign travellers are not complete”.

But just to add further confusion, the Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, contradicted that information yesterday afternoon and said that a plane of Chinese tourists were still due to arrive by a special charter flight to Phuket today. Phuket airport officials have also said they’re 100% ready with hundreds of trained personnel “to ensure that the plane of an estimated 150 Chinese Nationals from Guangzhou are safely processed”.

The number of tourists, the preparations, confirmed flights, precise arrangements – all up in the air. The Phuket Governor, Thai Public Health Minister, TAT Governor and Phuket Airport officials are all saying different things.

The first group of 300 (or only 150?) Chinese tourists and businessmen from Guangzhou, scheduled to arrive on the southern island today, will not permitted to travel. It’s been reported in Khaosod English that the Thai government won’t offer them refunds for accommodation, insurance, flights, along with any other costs they had incurred so far to obtain their STVs

Yuthasak Supasorn, the TAT governor, says the arrangements for their travel should be treated as a postponement, not a cancellation.

“…there’s no need for those refunds, because their trip is not cancelled, it’s just delayed.”

Little has been published about the impending, now delayed, travellers… where they are travelling, where they are staying, the costs and arrangements of their flights, beyond the knowledge that they were flying to Phuket on a chartered Air Asia flight. But Yuthasak expressed his confidence that the STV “will be implemented later this month” when all the necessary measures and procedures are put in place.

Another batch of Scandinavian travellers was set to arrive on October 21 but that date has now been thrown into doubt by the Phuket Governor’s announcement on Tuesday that the island should wait until after the Vegetarian Festival (which finishes on October 25).

But, again, Yuthasak assured reporters yesterday that would arrive before the end of October “for sure”.

The Special Tourist Visa is the first official attempt at allowing some sort of tourism back into Thailand but comes with a hefty price tag and lots of conditions and regulations. There are also a limited amount of countries from where the travellers are considered “low risk”.

People, who have contacted the US embassy and consulates, for example, are being told that US citizens are not currently being considered for travel under the STV.

Arrivees would need a health certificate, pre-paid arrangements for a mandatory 14 day quarantine, special insurance and can only travel on Thai government-approved charter or private flights. The actual visa only costs 2,000 baht, is valid for 90 days and can renewed, at a cost each time of another 2,000 baht, twice, giving a total of nearly 9 months if required.

 

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    29 Comments

    29 Comments

    1. Avatar

      patty

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 9:34 am

      Prayut regime = mess. What the hell is going on with all of this? What a huge mess. The dictator is so incompetent. The idiot is suppose to run a country when he cant even organise a trip for 150 businessmen. Then they’re talking about no refunds? WTF. Is this a sign of things to come for future tourists on this stupid STV scheme?

    2. Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 9:50 am

      Moral of the story: do not pay up front in Thailand ,especially if the government is involved.
      !50 business men have a cancelled entry. This will deter 15000 business men.

      • Avatar

        barry

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 10:17 am

        When it does fly in, I think this might be the first Air Asia business flight – wonder if they have to pre-order the champagne on the website?
        O tempora, o mores!

        • Avatar

          Richard

          Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 2:18 pm

          First off for all the requirements to meet for the stv and paperwork it means it has to be redone test retaken due to this delay.
          There is more hurdles than a equestrian event to jump over good luck on the rich willing to put up with this and hope the trip is worth it as the videos of Phuket not that promising with all the shutdowns and a virtual ghost town.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 12:59 pm

        Wrong. Totally untrue, as usual.

        Their entry isn’t “cancelled”, it’s postponed.

        They’re not “business men” but tourists, on a tourist visa – there’s a hint in the name of the visa.

        If any tourists have been deterred, which is unlikely given the hoops set for the STV anyway, where else are they going to go? What’s the alternative?

        • Avatar

          Ts

          Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 2:47 pm

          They are buisness travellers, not actual tourists. Below is from an article yesterday.

          “According to Thansettakji, the Chinese tourists are actually business travellers entering under tours organised by the Thailand Longstay Company.”

        • Avatar

          Andr

          Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 12:14 am

          Maldivies. Mexico. Carribean to a certain degree. There are many places open for business that don’t even have a self quarantine requirement on arrival.

      • Avatar

        David Barker

        Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 12:57 am

        As much as I love Thailand it really is the land of scams.Its only taken me 30 years to realise this and the penny finally dropped after I was stupid enough to invest in property here.
        Nothing is as it seems and they only really tolerate foreigners for financial gain they don’t actually like us.

    3. Avatar

      EdwardV

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 10:06 am

      This is exactly what I worried about when the scheme was first proposed. There are so many pre-paid costs, and so many hoops to jump through, what If something goes wrong? Can you get your money back? Do you get part of it back and eat the rest? Do you go to the back of the line and have to start the entire process again? The amount of risk was just completely unacceptable. Even if the quarantine was lowered to an acceptable number, and I got enough time off of work, the monetary risk was too high. It’s no way to run a railroad.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 1:07 pm

        A perfectly reasonable decision – the STV obviously isn’t for you.

        “It’s no way to run a railroad.”

        Also very fair, but to be equally fair, who else is running a better railroad?

        Other countries, particularly in the West, are responsible for “messes” by moving the goalposts or changing the rules that have affected thousands more people / tourists in similar situations, costing them thousands of times as much.

        That doesn’t excuse the mess, but it at least puts it in perspective for those who are being honest and rational.

      • Avatar

        Andre

        Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 12:23 am

        I would actually take the STV and stay for 3 to 6 months as I can do remote work, and I accept the costs for the ASQ, pre-booked accomodation etc. but I feel it is a bit risky with all this back and forth. One thing is taking the actual costs, but I am getting more and more sceptical in spending so much prepaid money with no potential refund on something that is so shaky and can be cancelled any time. One thing is paying the actual (inlfated) cost, but I feel there is a high risk that all the prepayments would be lost.

        Have not seen my fiance in Thailand since mars, and immigration in my country refused a special girl-/boyfriend visa targeted at people separated by the pandemic. Reason of denial: They found it unlikely that she could depart Thailand legally due to the lack of comercial outbound flights.

        There are takers on the STV with relations in Thailand, but they need to clear out the risks before this will be viable. As it currently stand it seems chaotic and no one really know the full detailed requirements.

    4. Avatar

      Glenn

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 10:26 am

      suckers

    5. Avatar

      System

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 10:50 am

      Thus we have the cu de gra

      • Avatar

        Frank Leboeuf

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 4:06 pm

        The cul de gras? Or maybe even the coup de grâce?

        • Avatar

          Maag

          Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 7:29 pm

          Sans doute les deux mon capitaine !

    6. Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 12:53 pm

      I’m not sure what part of “…there’s no need for those refunds, because their trip is not cancelled, it’s just delayed” isn’t clear to some people.

      They’re due to come for at least 90 days, up to 270. It’s not as if they’re just coming for a brief holiday that they’ve had to cancel.

      ‘Yes’, it’s undoubtedly an unholy “mess” but no more so than the UK telling Brits, without warning, that they were going to have to quarantine for a fortnight when they returned from holidays they were already on, or many countries their borders and sending tourists home who were already in mid-flight.

      I don’t recall too much in the way of any “refunds” by any of those governments …

      There are plenty of things to bash Thailand and Tu over, but constantly trying to do it over anything and everything just detracts from the genuine issues.

    7. Avatar

      TS

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 1:00 pm

      low risk money making “scheme” working just as planned.

    8. Avatar

      Eddie

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 1:12 pm

      No refunds! Land of scams…

    9. Avatar

      TS

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 1:23 pm

      Hope most put it on a charge card. They’ve got a fighting chance. Never cash or debit card upfront in scamsville.
      I doubt there were many if any bookings anyway- gov trying to save face by postponing

    10. Avatar

      Tony Grace

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 2:07 pm

      Every one though someone did it,Someone thought every one did it,But as it turned out nobody did it,and they all said sorry misunderstand.

    11. Avatar

      Sweet Potato

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 2:19 pm

      I have travelled to many countries but I have never seen such an unorganized mess like in Thailand. I’m happy that I’m leaving soon because I don’t feel welcome anymore after months of daily changing and ridiculous rules. I will spend my money somewhere else..

      • Avatar

        Vance

        Friday, October 9, 2020 at 5:25 am

        Its Better and easier in Barbados u can even get a long stay ,one year to work and live as a Bajan.

    12. Avatar

      James

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      There’s a fool born every minute. Not hard to find 150 of them.

    13. Avatar

      David

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 4:24 pm

      And we are supposed to be encouraged by this STV? Not a chance. Until the pain is unbearable the ongoing circus will continue.

    14. Avatar

      Wijnschenk

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 4:39 pm

      When Thailand was struck by a tsunami the world send millions to help!!
      When tGai children were stuck in a cave the world came to rescue.!!
      Now!! Thailand can do!! Something back!!!
      HELPING STRANDED PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GET BACK TO THEIR CHILDREN WIFE FAMILY.
      SO!!??,
      DO SOMETHING BACK NOT!!! GO FOR THE MONEY…

      • Avatar

        Nipral

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 6:14 pm

        just a bunch of suckers ! Crooks !

    15. Avatar

      Nipral

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 6:10 pm

      This government is just a bunch of brainless crooks and barbarians !

    16. Avatar

      Thomas

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 6:32 pm

      What a bunch of losers. They now piss off the last willing people to enter Thailand as well. Thailand 4.0; try first Thailand 1.0.

    17. Avatar

      pascal

      Sunday, October 11, 2020 at 6:10 pm

      this is a mistake, such a plan won t help anything at this point in time. tourism in Thailand has been hit big time. how 150 dudes can help the engine to start again? yeeeee ok it s a test …right how many peoples can afford 2 weeks stuck in a mud????? fair enough it s done for peoples who will stay beyond a month or 2 maybe??? Thailand had a mass tourism and only this will help at this stage but to do so a vaccin and a covid safe procedure are needed. all airlines are grounded for the same reason all country are closed for the same reason. even the travel bubble will take place only if the covid is bitten. what they trying to do is a tear in ocean……..Just saying

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