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Tourists on the new Special Tourist Visa will have to arrive on charter flights



After months of pondering when some tourists might actually come back through the turnstiles, the Thai Immigration Bureau says they’re dusting off the finger-print ID and cameras at arrival booths in Bangkok in preparation for the first wave of ‘general’ tourism back to Thailand. But the projected flow of around 1,200 incoming passengers under the new Special Tourist Visa will still fall a long way short of the 3 million monthly arrivals from last year.

On Tuesday the Cabinet approved, in principal, to allow a new Special Tourist Visa. The new visa, which comes into operation as soon as next month, allows tourists to arrive for a minimum of 90 days, then able to extend 2 more times for 90 days each, nearly 9 months in total. The major ‘stumbling block’ remains in place – the mandatory state 14 day quarantine – which many potential tourists say they are simply not prepared to tolerate.

Speaking after the Cabinet decision, the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, said that the move was an important first step to reopen the country to tourism. Speaking on the matter, the Department of Disease Control says that “reopening the country to foreign visitors will not raise the risks of local Covid-19 transmission from imported infections”.

Another impediment to the success of the new STV was revealed after the Tourism Authority of Thailand deputy governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool said that the tourists would have to travel on chartered flights from overseas directly to their destinations in Thailand. The cost and infrequent nature of these flights would add a further barrier to the success of the visa.

The TAT predicts 1,200 tourists would visit Thailand each month under the STV program and acknowledged that they would be in the higher income groups due to the additional expenses involved in the flights, paperwork and state quarantine, most likely at a registered hotel, at the traveller’s expense.

A handful of scheduled flights, in and out of Thailand, mostly either as a transit or dropping off cargo, provide few options for a return to general tourism at this stage which is forcing the government to work with overseas embassies to organise charter flights for the STV program.

The deputy director-general of the DDC, Tanarak Plipat, foreshadowed that the new tourist arrivals would likely not bring in Covid-19 infections, “since the visitors would be subject to a stay at state quarantine facilities for 14 days”.

Over the past 4 months almost all the new infections in Thailand have been returnees testing positive whilst in state quarantine. But in the past 2 weeks there has been 2 local infections – a DJ who was in quarantine at a corrections facility and a Uzbek football player from the Buriram United football team.

Just yesterday it was also reported that a 2 year old Burmese boy tested positive after returning from Thailand. Dr Tanarak says the DDC were investigating the case but “no special measures had been imposed in Ayutthaya province where the boy had stayed before returning to Myanmar”.

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  1. Lance

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 8:39 am

    Oh come on give me a break what’s wrong with arriving on a flight from Narita to Bangkok why does it have to be a special Charter flight as well as where do you go to book the special Charter flight come on don’t go the route of adding too many restrictions! Coming from the USA ( witch I am just wating for the to say … oh by the way Americans are not allowed for this Visa) its easier for me to fly from Dallas to Tokyo then Tokyo to Bangkok but with this Charter flight I’m guessing all those charter flights are going to be in Europe so I’m going to have to buy two separate tickets costing me way more than it should just think it’s Thailand I meet all the qualifications of this Visa don’t ruin it for us by adding a crap load more cost that is unnecessary

  2. EdwardV

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 8:48 am

    Not a surprise at all. You would still want to control the flights into Thailand and decrease the chances someone is infected on said flight . Honestly the extra cost also helps weed out the random tourist from the well off ones which is Thailand’s entire objective at this point in time.

    • Issan John

      Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 9:10 am

      Spot on, Edward V, but I can’t help wondering why even 1,200 per month would bother.

      It’s not just the cost of the quarantine (80,000 baht +) and the inconvenience, but “why ?”

      Thailand’s tourist market, like it or not, is mass tourism – not a select few staying for nine months and spending top whack every day.

      • BaxiidaaLao

        Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 11:34 pm

        The cheapest ASQ, is under 30K…

  3. Issan John

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 9:14 am

    I’m also still intrigued about the requirement to stay “at least 90 days”. What if one of these “top end” tourists wants to leave after a month?

    Are they to be told “no”, you’re not allowed to leave? Seriously?

    • Nipral

      Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 10:03 am

      “Top end” tourists NEVER stay 90 days in any country !

    • Perceville Smithers

      Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 2:37 pm

      You pay! Probably have it calculated what a VIP Guest would have spent each month and you’d pay the remaining months.

  4. Todd

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 9:17 am

    The charter flight requirement is a killer. We are in Singapore. No idea if chartered flights will be scheduled from here. Really disappointing .

  5. Nipral

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Sounds like a joke !!!

  6. Maverick

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 10:03 am

    At least they are trying to move forwards – but completely out of touch with reality – there are flights avail out of Europe that are far from full……why would these not be acceptable – when they realize that the take up is zero they will have to rethink.

  7. Kurt Blattler

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 10:44 am

    How long does it take until the GOV come up with Visa showing COMMON SENSE….????
    This new 90 days stuff is a drop on a hot stone… and the Tourist industry has no chance to recover. NO GUTS – NO GLORY !!!

  8. Patrick

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 11:09 am

    Why come up with all these rediculous plans that are not at all realistic and simply cannot work. What they actually say: Borders stay closed even when the economy is devastated in quite some areas of Thailand. Useless gesture politics and imaginary results. The supposedly covid free but untested domestic situation doesnt help and it seems the gov likes to keep portraying covid as a super contagious killer virus. Flu 2.0 would be a far more realistic designation. About flu, lets put that one into the media spotlight for a change and compare them. Well underrated for decades ;

    Surprise surprise, its here to stay. Way too wide spread to go away anytime soon with or without vaccines (compare flu situation?). So Thailand? What youre gonna do? Keep sticking your head into the ground no covid no covid dangerous killing while whole sectors fall down around them.

  9. Huge

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 11:20 am

    I think they are great plans if you plan on staying a long time. In fact itll probably work out cheaper then having to keep going to the border

  10. Tom

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 11:51 am

    Thailand nice try open tourism 1200 people are allowed per month for VISA 90 Days….
    For a country when normally 110.000 Tourist arrives everyday…. How that will support the economy with expected 27 Million Euros …. per month ?!
    Out of 1200 Tourist ?
    Totally Nutssss

  11. Gary

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 11:54 am

    A Phuket ASQ hotel sent my inquiry about costs to a Business jet operator, any one got a spare $48500 US for a flight from Hong Kong to Phuket? Add that to your 90 days etc etc.

  12. Remo

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    300 arrivals weekly means one flight per week.

    How will they organise it?

    First week from Tokyo, next week a flight from New York, then next week from Frankfurt, then from London?

    • EdwardV

      Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 7:27 pm

      Not that America would probably make the list, but a flight is more likely out of Los Angeles than New York. The largest concentration of Thais anywhere outside of Thailand reside inLos Angeles . That gives them a better chance of filling the plane with repatriation people along with tourists since they all would be headed to quarantine together. You can also fly direct from LA to BKK without needed a stopover. Thai airways used to make that flight years ago.

  13. willem Hagting

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    Why not start to let longstay visa holders come back in. That will have more effect then a new Special visa. The longstay visa holders have their social life, possessions, are integrated in Thailand already. They just got stuck outside Thailand due to covid. Once returned they will for sure want to stay longtime again.

    • The Thaiger & The Nation

      Friday, September 18, 2020 at 7:17 am

      They have allowed several categories of long stay visas back into the country since August 1.

      • Gary

        Friday, September 18, 2020 at 7:44 am

        Many retirees waiting to get home.

  14. TS

    Friday, September 18, 2020 at 11:23 am

    Hey! mr. tourist minister, high spenders don’t want long time, just short time. How much total after covid promotion?

  15. bob

    Monday, September 28, 2020 at 8:50 pm

    I think IF THEY ALLOW APPLICATIONS THRU THE EMBASSY, much like a normal visa would make the process easier.

    To many requirements to get a STV Visa, forgetting the cost, just having to show up at a Embassy with a Covid test result 3 days prior to leaving is almost impossible, unless you live and leave from a city where the Embassy is located.(take the test and if your lucky you get results in 2 days)

    Paying all upfront to, have you ever heard of a Thai company giving a refund?? in case you are rejected or some emergency arises.

    The concept of the visa is good, but the implementation is way to complicated and cumbersome

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