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Reports from Thailand say that Thailand’s Minister for Sports and Tourism, Pipat Ratchakitprakan, has announced that Thailand’s tourism is closed until the second quarter of next year and by that it has been interpreted that international visitors will not be allowed until that date, with tourist visas, such as e-Visa and visa-on-arrival, on hold, apart from the new TR and STV visa.

It is also reported that the tourism industry, which had high hopes for the 2020/2021 season is very disappointed with this move, with Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan reported as saying, “The country will continue opening to businessmen, technical experts, high-level workers and those in the medical field for now.” and “The 14-day quarantine will continue for now with many countries still in the grip of the pandemic”.

Visitors can gain access in the country through the new TR and STV visas, btu it is a complicated and rigorous process, with limited numbers with the Thai government agreeing to issue the special traveling visa (STV) back in October, aiming to let in up to 1,200 tourists a month to rejuvenate the now dire industry.

It has been reported that the Thai government was planning to further alleviate the restrictions for prospective visitors, attempting to encourage them to visit Thailand by reducing the period of quarantine upon arrival from 14 days to 10 days, but it does not appear this has been implemented.

The Tourist Visa – TR  grants up to 60 days for a stay in Thailand and can be applied by residents of any country and the Long Stay Visa – STV is for residents of any low-risk countries who commit to stay for a minimum of 90 days, with some of the documents required for the application for both types of visas with the Thai embassy/consulate in their home country including, a bank statement showing proof of income in the last six months with the minimum amount of B500,000 (approximately USD16,336); proof of medical and traveling insurance that covers COVID-19 worth at least USD100,000 in coverage for the entire stay duration; approved visa and approved certificate of entry (COE); proof of booking payment for an accommodation during the entire stay and also a booking payment for an alternative state quarantine [ASQ] hotel/hospital, if the visitor wishes not to self-isolate in government-designated facilities; and the visitor must follow COVID-19 testing entry requirements, which include: proof of a negative COVID-19 polymerize chain reaction (PCR) swab test taken within 72 hours before flight; a second COVID-19 PCR test upon the arrival, with if testing positive, the visitor tourist will be transferred to a state hospital for quarantine and ff testing negative, the visitor will be transferred to a state quarantine facility or an ASQ accommodation for the 14-day quarantine scheme, at the visitors own cost.

After two weeks of self-isolation in preferred accommodation and testing negative, the visitor can leave the premises and travel freely in Thailand but still must follow basic preventive measures such as wearing a face mask and keeping social distancing in public.

All of which sounds pretty hard even by Aussie standards and without doubt and probably correctly enough, putting any visitor off visiting….so roll on March!

A report by John Alwyn-Jones