Tourism Authority Governor says officials are working on arrival plans for European tourists flying to Thailand under the Special Tourist Visa programme. This comes as it emerges that most of the 40 or so Chinese tourists who arrived on Tuesday will only be staying for 30 days despite the special visa allowing for a stay of up to nine months in the kingdom.
Foreign Tourists can again travel to Thailand as the first group of 40 Chinese tourists flew in from Shanghai on Tuesday. There are also reports that tourism officials are planning transport and logistics to welcome European tourists under the new ‘safe and secure’ protocols associated with the Special Tourist Visa which can be applied for at Thai embassies and consulates worldwide.
The arrival on Tuesday of the first group of 40 or so Chinese tourists under the Special Tourist Visa scheme is the beginning of the reopening of international tourism to Thailand.
This was the verdict of both Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul and Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn who both gave interviews to the media clarifying the move forward.
European tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will be here soon as officials work out flight arrival plans
Mr Yuthasak confirmed that flights from Europe and other western countries would soon also be arriving in Thailand with tourists prepared for long-stay visits and paying a premium price to be in the kingdom.
The TAT governor said that his agency is currently working with officials to decide which airports would be best suited to process the first wave of incoming western tourists as Thailand’s doors finally creak open.
Scepticism and resistance is rife among regular tourists from western countries but many will come
For many prospective western tourists, there is a general air of scepticism as so many initiatives and plans have come and gone over the past few months.
There is also resistance to the prohibitive cost of access to Thailand based on the new regime which includes Covid tests, insurance policies and extensive paperwork even to get permission to enter the kingdom.
However, for quite a few, even if they are a small minority or with cheaper alternatives, the opportunity to get back to Thailand again is simply irresistible.
Public Health Minister praises the first new tourists as pioneers and appreciates the effort it took
This was acknowledged by Public Health Minister Anutin on Tuesday as he praised the first arrivals from China who flew in from Shanghai on a Spring Air flight to commence their holiday in the kingdom.
All had, we are told, been subject to Covid tests, insurance requirements and medical certification.
They were greeted at the airport by staff and medics in hazmat suits with a further Covid test as well as other medical checks before they could move on to the 14 days stay in alternative quarantine which doesn’t come cheap.
The tourists who arrived from China did not look, at first glance, like the millionaire jet setters that had been suggested, at one stage, to justify an estimated expenditure per visitor of over ฿800,000 which is what the Thai government has projected.
On Tuesday, however, Minister Anutin was full of praise for this first group of Chinese arrivals describing them as pioneers in Thailand’s effort to revive its critical and lucrative tourist industry.
Controversial Deputy Prime Minister Anutin is misunderstood by many westerners say friends
Deputy Prime Minister Anutin is well-known to western foreigners in Thailand after two controversial incidents this year, the first in which he upbraided a western man for refusing a free face mask and called for his deportation.
He later expressed disapproval, when on a visit to the north of Thailand, he failed to see any Chinese tourists except for western visitors whose personal habits he disdained in a social media message warning Thai nationals to be circumspect about the virus.
Many associates of the minister have since come to his defence claiming that the remarks were taken out of context and linked to the pressure of his pivotal job during the crisis.
They point to his many western friends and acquaintances.
New tourist scheme is both safe and secure
On Tuesday, DPM Anutin assured the Thai public that the beginning of foreign tourists entering Thailand was both safe and secure.
He also indicated that the government would find the resources to increase the numbers who can be processed for the Special Tourist Visa scheme which it currently only projects will generate 1,200 visitors per month or 0.35% of the visitor traffic achieved during the record year of 2019 for tourism.
Airlines are selling tickets for Thailand again
There was some other positive news in recent days when it was reported that 10 international airlines including Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Swissair, Austrian Airlines, EVA Air and KLM have all begun selling tickets again for travel to Thailand.
The Civil Aviation Authority had, earlier this year, reopened Thailand’s airways but is pointing to the strict requirements for visitors to the kingdom that must be met for any passenger to enter.
Tourism Minister’s mass tourism ‘travel corridor’ plan to allow open access from mainland China
Meanwhile, the Tourism Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, has announced that a travel corridor for tourism between Thailand and 22 Chinese regions could see the resumption of mass tourism without quarantine simply based on a Covid 19 test sometime in early 2021.
Minister Phiphat predicted a massive 11 million visitors from this initiative with a potential contribution to the Thai economy of ฿540 billion.
Most of the first Chinese arrivals on Tuesday under the Special Tourist Visa, which allows for a stay of up to nine months, said they were looking forward to heading for the beach once they emerged from quarantine with most staying in the kingdom for only 30 days.
Tourism Authority Governor confirms European tourists on the way subject to quarantine and tracking
On Tuesday, Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak revealed that on October 26th and 28th, a further 100 tourists from China will arrive from Shanghai and Guangzhou.
‘I confirm that all foreigners who arrive will have to strictly comply with health measures. They will be allowed to travel around the country only if they are clear of infection once the quarantine period is over. However, each tourist will be required to have a tracker app,’ he said.
He pointed out that his officials were currently working with the Ministry of Transport on arrival plans for Special Tourist visa holders from Europe.