Europeans looking to spend winter somewhere with a warmer climate can hope to find that in Thailand. Latest developments show that the Thai government has begun relaxing restrictions on tourist visa requirements.
According to reports, Europeans are classified as “medium risk” and can thus apply for a special 60-day tourist visa. This visa will allow them to stay up to 90 days, as the visa has a one 30-day extension available upon expiry of the initial entry.
This is a development of the ongoing restrictions governing incoming foreigners to Thailand. Previously, foreigners wanting to return to Thailand can only apply for a non-immigrant visa, but only provided that they fall within one of the 11 categories that have been given permission to re-enter Thailand starting in July.
These groups include businessmen, state diplomats, representatives of businesses, film crews, medical tourists and members of the premium Thailand Elite Visa service.
To apply for the 60-day tourist visa, Europeans have to prepare a fit-to-fly certificate, which will only be given after they are tested for COVID-19 and shown to be negative for the virus. They must also purchase COVID-19 insurance, with coverage of up to US$100,000.
They must also book themselves to an alternative state quarantine hotel (ASQ) for 14 days in addition to their holiday accommodations. They must present proof of accommodation, an airline ticket, and a bank account with a specific running balance equivalent to GBP13,000 within the past six months.
Tourism Authority of Thailand Deputy Governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool said that the 60-day tourist visa is the most viable option for British and other European tourists at this point as they don’t fall within the “low risk” category of the STV, and their nature of visit does not fall within the scope of any non-immigrant visa.
For now, Europeans and other nations cannot apply for the Special Tourist Visa, which grants holders an initial 90 days of stay with two extensions of 90 days each allowed. Currently, only countries with “low risk” of infection are allowed to send tourists into Thailand under the STV.
So far, only Chinese tourists have been allowed to enter Thailand under the STV. The first group from Shanghai, which arrived in Thailand on October 20, have now been released from quarantine.
The second group, which arrived in October 28, are almost at the end of their quarantine period as well.
Looking to boost tourism between Thailand and China, traditionally the country providing the highest number of tourist arrivals in Thailand, government officials between the two countries are reportedly entering into discussions regarding quarantine-free tourism in both directions.
Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn of the Tourism and Sports Ministry said that he hopes negotiations can be concluded before the Chinese New Year in February.
In a bid to boost domestic tourism, the government has approved several loan measures that will allow small-and-medium enterprises to access higher amounts of loans at the lowest interest rates.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand, under orders from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, is looking at extending the “We Travel Together” tourism package through next year.