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

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

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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to reign in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now manacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need teo push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand

Tim Newton

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UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand | Thaiger

UPDATE: The field hospital in Bangkok’s Bang Bon district, west of the Chao Phraya river, had its first 10 Covid patients today. The director of the medical services office of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says that the 10 patients into the makeshift hospital, located at the Chalerm Phra Kiat Stadium, will enable assessment of the performance by the medical team, before more patients arrive – Thai PBS World

ORIGINAL STORY: Despite the confident posture and Songkran going ahead, amid restrictions, there is a lot of background activity which suggest the authorities are getting ready for a surge of new infections at the end of the Songkran break, officially this Thursday (but in reality, next Sunday at the end of the weekend when most people who travelled home will return for a resumption of work).

The Thai lunar new year celebrations – Songkran – are the largest mass movement of Thais each year, a source for a huge leap in road deaths and accidents. And, this year, a potential super-spreader event.

Quietly, at least 3,000 extra beds have been prepared in 10 field hospitals around Bangkok. The government has also confirmed that additional field hospitals are being set up in other potential ‘hot zones’, including Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chonburi and Hua Hin. Some of them were set up last year, and since closed, and now being prepared for new positive infections.

One Thai person who had been in one of the field hospitals put together a check-list of things to take IF you end up as an invited ‘guest’ HERE.

The CCSA say they are looking for additional beds in hotels and previous state quarantine facilities (where repatriating Thais were housed for their free quarantine) to be used if needed.

This year’s Songkran had bad timing, coming just a week after a number of major clusters were identified around some of Bangkok’s popular nightlife areas in 3 key inner city districts. Even before Songkran these isolated clusters had already spread into the provinces. In the weekend before Songkran the government had already listed 37 provinces which had instigated some form of paperwork or restrictions for people who had been in any of the 3 Bangkok districts.

The government also leapt on the source of the new outbreaks – bars, clubs and entertainment venues – and promptly shut them down for at least 2 weeks. At this stage it looks likely that that ban will be extended beyond the 2 weeks and, depending on the extent of new infections following the Songkran holiday, additional restrictions will also be added.

Even today the Civil Aviation Authority published a number of new in-flight restrictions for passengers – another blow to the hard-hit domestic aviation sector.

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

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