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Thailand “relaxes” visa criteria to draw in more tourists

Caitlin Ashworth

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In an effort to revive the tourism industry after a quiet 7 months without foreign tourists, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says they’ve “relaxed” the criteria for issuing tourist visas and are now allowing foreigners from countries considered a “medium risk” for spreading Covid-19 to apply for a tourist visa.

Thailand will start allowing some foreigners to enter on a 60 day tourist visa which can be extended to a 90 day stay, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand executive director for tourism products, Thapanee Kitaphaibool.

The Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, DC lists requirements for a single entry tourist visa on its website. First, travellers need money. Applicants need a bank account balance of at least $17,000 USD (500,000 baht) each month for the last 6 months. Applicants also need a medical certificate issued 72 hours before departure and health insurance coverage of at least $100,000 USD. The traveller must still go through a 14 day quarantine upon entering Thailand and must arrange and pay for the alternative state quarantine (ASQ) hotel at their own expense.

Thailand initially launched the new Special Tourist Visa for travellers from countries considered at “low risk” for spreading the coronavirus. The visa allows a 90 day stay that can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months. Since target countries like Europe and Scandinavia are categorized as “medium risk” countries, Thai consulates have relaxed regulations for applicants from those countries.

The requirements for the Special Tourist Visa are also expensive. Applicants need at least 500,000 baht in savings, health insurance coverage of at least $100,000 USD and out-patient coverage of at least 40,000 baht. Applicants must also take a Covid-19 test 72 hours before they travel and be in possession of a medical certificate.

Opening up Thailand back up to tourists has been a slow process. Before the pandemic, the country had millions of tourists entering the country each month. Since travel restrictions eased up, only a few flights of foreigners on the Special Tourist Visa have entered the country. As of November 5, the ministry issued certificates of entry to 1,465 foreigners with most people approved to enter on retirement visas, Special Tourist Visa and privileged entry visas.

Visas and visa requirements vary from country to country. Check, check, check with your local Thai Embassy before booking any flights or making any travel arrangements.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Jason

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 11:02 am

    How is this relaxed???

    • Avatar

      Fred glue

      Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 11:16 am

      You are right,, I will wait for the Covid-19 vaccine.

  2. Avatar

    Dave

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 11:10 am

    ludicrous, stop tinkering, either open up borders and accept increased risk but manage and track or don’t! Who will agree to these “relaxed” requirements…?

  3. Avatar

    SG666

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 11:12 am

    I think the only relaxation is the term ,medium risk,. As far as I remember it has been ,low risk, previously.

    However, nobody with a brain will visit under the requirements for this STV. There are in fact NO registrations from anybody for this scheme in November as stated by relevant agencies.

    Welcome to a next episode of the Muppet show.

  4. Avatar

    Jerrod Valles

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    The “relaxed” criteria is easy to meet….but certainly not worth it right now. 99% of potential tourist will wait until a vaccine is released and effective. So that Thailand will return to the normal criteria.

  5. Avatar

    John

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    This is hardly relaxed. It’s the same lol. Still have to go through quarantine.

  6. Avatar

    Jon

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Thailand is start to became in a dictadure country that alloud to control the population that can entry in his country Just for the money they have, how is gona go there when bali is gona open soon, Brasil is full of People travelling there without any stupid quarentine in expensive hotels, have to be 15000 euros in your account and that manipulative and dictatorial states of supremacy

  7. Avatar

    Tom

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    If TAT thinks these are relaxed restrictions then they’re on crack!! How many tourist have $17.000 sitting in thier bank for 6 months and an over priced Thai insureance policy, is it any wonder there has not been that many people entering Thailand under the STV scheme (And there won’t be the landslide of applications they are hoping for) But I’ll put money on things changing JUST in time for chinese new year!! and they’ll come and spend money in chinese hotels, tour groups and restaurants and people of local run businesses will get very little…

    • Avatar

      Robert Elliot

      Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 9:59 pm

      They have already announced a travel bubble with China before Chinese New Year is in the works.

  8. Avatar

    Wayno

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    This is the visa i come in on,extended to 90 days. My £10,000-400,000 Baht holiday money will not be spent in Thailand this year and i will not return until i can quarantine in my own home with my girlfriend taking care of me.

  9. Avatar

    Boris Popovic

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    As everyone else is noticing, this is not relaxed at all. Thailand used to have over 30 million tourists per year. Having a few thousand back is a joke. What are they thinking? How many people have had $17,000 in their bank account for the past six months??? Those who have that kind of money will not bother to go through 14 day quarantine just to have a vacation in Thailand. They will go elsewhere where there is no quarantine requirement which itself costs three times more than a two week vacation in most places in Thailand. All in all this is ridiculous from any point of view.

    • Avatar

      Peter Bennrtt

      Monday, November 16, 2020 at 3:50 am

      Very true!

    • Avatar

      Paul

      Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 3:37 pm

      How many people? Tens of thousands of retired parents that did not see their child or close relatives for almost a year!
      And these people will have no difficulties to show this amount of money in their bank account (if you look at any statistics of westerners>60 years incomes). And they will also be able to patient 2 more weeks in quarantaine before reconnecting with their loved ones.
      I Agree nevertheless that it will be too difficult to afford for the poorest among us which is unfair but hope for them this test will be successful in terms of public health and will be an opportunity to open more largely the country to tourists moving forward.

  10. Avatar

    Richard

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    hahahaha nice try Thailand. I’d rather go somewhere close to home like Mexico or Costa Rica that doesn’t demand all these requirements and allows local businesses to officially charge dual prices!
    The way I see it, you need my money but I have better options available. Pass

  11. Avatar

    preesy chepuce

    Friday, November 13, 2020 at 12:00 am

    This kind of policy is economic suicide. What kind of moron thinks this has any chance of working?!

  12. Avatar

    Bill Ghos

    Friday, November 13, 2020 at 4:29 am

    These unwise travel restrictions will have a huge negative impact on Thai economy and its Thai population. Directly affecting tourism industry and indirectly affecting millions of Thai labor force, plus its services and suppliers. The unemployed work force will end up in hardship forcing them to commit criminal acts to support their families.

    Solution: Allow foreigners in with Negative PCR report conducted within 72 hours of flying to Thailand and another PCR test upon arrival with only 2 days quarantine…

  13. Avatar

    John Brown

    Friday, November 13, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    How is SWEDEN even allowed, let alone “medium risk”? This is absurd, and criminally reckless. The Thai authorities responsible for this travesty in reasoning should be forced to vacation in Sweden this winter.

    • Avatar

      TS

      Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 6:53 pm

      The world’s tourist industry is dead. Why does Thailand keep driving nails into the coffin? Hello you silly Thai “ministers”, get a clue: No one’s coming. When and IF an effective vaccine comes out and IF tourism starts to get a pulse, this place will NOT be on the traveller’s ‘must go’ list with all it’s ridiculous cash grabbing entry requirements. Most tourists get travel insurance when paid with a credit card. But US $100k just to come here? Dream on…

  14. Avatar

    jacob latter

    Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    i’m so ” relaxed” watching this news now. I can see thailand is doing its best to bring in thousands of tourists now .. haha, well its their tourism industry not mine.

    From the statistical evidence even if Thais do catch it such a low percentage die, I don’t think they really need to worry about infection what do I know. Its almost like Asia doesn’t really believe in the virus on some level.

    One things for sure its not Buddhism as that lets them drive around squashing everyone in sight

  15. Avatar

    peter bennett

    Monday, November 16, 2020 at 3:48 am

    I would hardly call the new regulations ‘relaxed’. In any case, with most of the shops and entertainment centres closed, what is the point of going?

  16. Avatar

    TS

    Monday, November 16, 2020 at 10:42 am

    exactly! The suits keep visiting these once lively money generating spots around the country and see now sad ghost towns and desparation. Then they rehash and propose their same tired old schemes targeting big spenders. Makes no sense. Other, better destinations are slowly opening their doors to tourists without quarantine. Pre and sometimes post flight testing only.

  17. Avatar

    Wayne Wright

    Monday, November 16, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    I’m fine with these requirements. After all of someone living here must have 800K B “just sitting” in a bank for a visa, 500K is less due to less time. Returning retirees must have all the same and quarantine as well. If the virus actually got loose on rural Thailand, billions in cost and death is the result. Money “generation” spots are peanuts vs cost. Those who really want to come will do so.

  18. Avatar

    Paul

    Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    At the moment how can a country with almost no cases would open the doors to millions of tourists from highly affected countries? The consequences on both health and economy could be much worst than the current situation.
    So what they are doing now, step by step reopening the country aiming to welcome less people but during longer stay makes perfect sense.
    And if you consider the thousands of retired people who get their children or parents working there it is a change for them to meet up again.
    And if you look at the criteria most of the retired ‘Westerners’ will have no problem to comply with.
    It’s definitely not made for young travellers with lower income and/or short period of vacation that anyway will not come in mass during this period.

    • Avatar

      JS

      Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 6:59 pm

      Wake up!

  19. Avatar

    Experienced Traveller

    Friday, November 20, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    Too many hoops to jump through . As retired visitors , we have spent around 3 months a year in Thailand in each of the last 10 years , spent a lot of money and really enjoyed it . BUT we cannot be bothered with all the new paperwork and 14 days quarantine , will wait for Malaysia or Vietnam to open up.

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

Bangkok

Closure order in Bangkok set until May 31, restaurants can now offer dine-in services

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo by Russell Davies for Flickr

To control the spread of Covid-19 in Bangkok, where more than 28,000 people have tested positive for the virus in the latest wave of infections, the closure order in the capital has been extended a second time, now set to be in place until May 31.

While many entertainment and recreation businesses and venues are ordered to remain closed, some restrictions have been relaxed. Restaurants can now offer dine-in services, but only until 9pm. Restaurants can still offer takeaway services until 11pm.

Businesses and venues that must remain closed include…

  • Educational places including schools and tutoring centres
  • Entertainment venues including pubs, bars, karaoke venues and nightclubs
  • Massage parlours and spas
  • Recreation and amusement businesses and places including cinemas, theatres, water parks, amusement parks, playgrounds, zoos, skating rinks, billiard halls, bowling alleys, arcades, internet cafes, public parks, gardens
  • Fitness and sport venues and businesses including public swimming pools, gyms, boxing stadiums, dance studios, golf courses
  • Care centres such as nurseries, childhood development centres and elderly care centres (with the exception of overnight stays.)
  • Museums and public libraries

Other restrictions include…

  • Shopping centres can remain open until 9pm.
  • Convenience stores and other 24-hour shops must be closed from 11pm to 4am.
  • Events over 20 people must have permission from the government with a disease control plan.
  • Face masks are mandatory in public places. Violators face a 20,000 baht fine.

SOURCE: TAT

 

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Thailand

Thai tourism minister re-iterates Phuket’s re-opening on July 1

Tim Newton

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The Thai government has again reiterated its plan to reopen Thailand, specifically Phuket, to foreign tourists and travellers. The southern island province, under the so-called “sandbox” plan, is Thailand’s pilot program for re-opening the country to general travel by July 1… just 6 weeks away.

The government has consistently said that the island’s residents will have to be 70% vaccinated by the start of July before the re-opening can happen. With a current vaccination success of 22%, the island is certainly a long way ahead of the rest of the country but still a long way from its 70% target.

The National News Bureau, the voice of the Thai government, reports that the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, is “urging” Phuket officials to achieve the vaccination target next month.

The media release says… “The provincial administration and the private sector have developed plans to prepare for the reopening in all respects, while creating more awareness and understanding with the local people. Thus, the reopening will be safe and help drive the economy forward.”

Far from providing “awareness and understanding with the local people”, Phuket officials have been opaque about vaccination roll out programs. The island’s foreign population, estimated to be around 40,000 people, or about 10% of the total population, are none-the-wiser today about their prospects to secure a place in the island’s vaccination queues.

Last week Phuket residents, with a local and current work permit, were told they would be able to register for vaccination. So far that process has not proceeded.

There is also a hard rump of Thais who have stated in numerous polls, that they remain unwilling to accept a vaccination. This includes thousands of candid posts on social media where fear or mistrust over the Sinovac vaccine from China is plain to see. The island also has a large Muslim population where some community leaders have already expressed some doubt over recommending vaccination to their adherents.

But, even today, the second roll out has begun on the island for Thais who registered on the Mor Prom app since the start of May, so things are progressing. An area has been put aside at the island’s Central Floresta shopping centre for registrants.

The ‘reopening to tourists’ on July 1 isn’t without restrictions. People arriving by air will not be open to “countries where COVID-19 is widespread, or tourists without a vaccination certificate”. That list hasn’t been fully detailed although Thailand has a ban on people arriving from at least 4 countries – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

“…visitors who travel by air must provide documents to prove that they have received both Covid-19 vaccine doses. They are required to undergo rapid antigen tests, or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT- PCR) tests, at their place of origin, and to register on www.gophuget.com and the MorChana application.”

The MorChana app tracks the location of an individual whilst their phone is turned on with the data turned on as well.

Without specifically mentioning quarantine in the media release, it is understood that quarantine will be waived for international travellers who have have been fully vaccinated. Other specific paperwork requirements have not been announced at this stage… with 6 weeks to go to the international re-opening.

For domestic traffic, arriving in Phuket by road (as of May 17), “…people who do not have a certificate of vaccination and have not taken a swab test will have to undergo a 14 day quarantine. If they plan to spend only 3 days in Phuket, they are required to stay in home quarantine for the 3 days.”

Phuket is still experiencing new daily infections

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai government expects to open vaccine registration to foreigners by August

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash

A Health Ministry spokesperson has confirmed that foreigners living in Thailand should be able to register for Covid-19 vaccination by August. Ratchada Thanadirek says the government is working on a dedicated registration platform for foreign nationals living in the Kingdom, which it’s hoped will be ready in 3 months’ time.

Meanwhile, Thai Visa News reports that vaccine registration for Thais has been extended to those aged between 18 and 59 years old, who can now sign up from May 31. Registration had initially been limited to Thai nationals over the age of 60, as well as those with underlying health conditions. However, the third wave of the virus means registration for younger Thais has been brought forward from July.

Thai nationals can register for vaccination through the Mor Prom platform or the Mor Prom Line account. They can also register at government hospitals. According to Ratchada, the vaccines that will be used in the government rollout will primarily be AstraZeneca, manufactured in-country by Siam Bioscience.

However, she points out that there are 3 other vaccines that have been approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration. They are the Chinese-made Sinovac, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and the vaccine from US manufacturer, Moderna. The latter is expected to be available for purchase at private hospitals, although there has been no confirmation of when supplies might arrive.

SOURCE: Thai Visa News

 

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