The legal and official situation for foreigners currently seeking access to Thailand, long stay travel packages, the 'travel bubble' proposal and which countries may qualify.
THE FUTURE OF TOURISM
Deputy Immigration Bureau Commander explains the legal and official situation for foreigners currently seeking access to Thailand. May 25th 2020
Deputy Immigration Bureau Commander explains the legal and official situation for foreigners currently seeking access to Thailand. While asking for patience and cooperation at this time, Choengron Rimphadi explains that without a vaccine or the virus disappearing, it is likely that there will be heightened security and control over inward travel to the kingdom
A senior Thai Immigration Bureau officer has called for the cooperation of everyone, including non-nationals, in defeating the Covid 19 virus as he outlined the current situation for allowing foreigners access to the kingdom. He also predicted a new normal even after the current situation is resolved or eased in the absence of a vaccine or the elimination of the virus. This will mean tighter control or security over entry to the kingdom for all travellers in the future.
Mr Choengron has asked the foreigner community in Thailand and all those involved to cooperate with authorities to ‘overcome the 'COVID' crisis’ together.
The measure, now in place, limits access to the kingdom for all foreigners except for 5 different groups.
These are, firstly, people invited to Thailand on behalf of the government or the Center for Covid 19 Situation Administration.
The second group is anyone involved with logistical operations. These foreigners, nonetheless, must leave the kingdom as soon as possible once their mission is completed.
The third group comprises the masters of vessels or those responsible for conveyance craft including those with functions or duties attached to such transports. These also must have a specific schedule for departure from Thailand.
The fourth group comprises diplomats or those attached to international organisations which are recognised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand.
The fifth group are foreigners either with work permits or who are permitted to take up work permits. This group includes those with relevant authorisation or written permission from the Ministry of Labour to work in Thailand
Included in this group also, are those involved with the management of firms linked with Board of Investment approval or with specified industries such as the petroleum sector.
All are required to have authorising letters from their organisations.
At this moment, no other foreigners, except these five groups, may enter Thailand under Thailand’s emergency decree and orders laid down by the Covid 19 Centre in its efforts to limit the spread of the virus.
The Emergency Decree is scheduled to end 30 June 2020.
Above; The Grand Palace Bangkok, which re-opened June 7 to domestic tourists.
BURDENSOME REQUIREMENTS FOR ENTRY TO THAILAND
Even for those approved, there are still other burdensome requirements to be met before admission
1. Medical certification within 72 hours of embarking for Thailand
Any foreigner entering the country must have a medical certificate stating that the person is fit to fly if using an air flight while for all visitors, it must confirm that the foreigner is in good health and free of the Covid 19 virus. This letter must have been issued within 72 hours of travelling.
2. $100,000 in health coverage
There must be health insurance coverage for up to $100,000 and this cover must also include insurance against the Covid 19 virus. This coverage must be authenticated by a Thai official.
3. Memorandum from the Thai Embassy and agreement to 14 days quarantine at the foreigner’s own expense
The certificate must have been issued by the Thai Embassy in the country where the foreigner is travelling from.
This must also include a memorandum of consent for the foreigner to self-isolate and be placed in state quarantine for 14 days.
TOURISM MINISTRY FLOATS LONG-STAY PACKAGES
The Covid-19 outbreak has crushed Thailand’s tourism industry, already battered by a flat high season in the previous year, and with the national ban on international arrivals extended until at least 1 July for tourists, and domestic travel still partially restricted, the situation isn’t likely to improve soon. But the coronavirus crisis, like all things, will pass, and Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry is proposing long-stay packages for foreign tourists seeking “disease-free destinations”.
The head of the ministry, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said that while international tourists are expected to gradually return after the domestic market revives, Thailand needs an appropriate marketing strategy to cope with the new, post-Covid norm of travellers.
“The ministry is working with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to set up a model which will attract a specific group of travellers to visit chosen areas.” he said
The perennial favourite island resorts of Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan will be the pilot destinations to welcome high end international tourists.
“Because those destinations are only reachable via limited gateways, provincial authorities can ensure thorough screening of incoming visitors and provide more comprehensive prevention measures against the potential import of the virus compared to other major destinations, such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.”
TAT offices abroad are now courting the long-stay market, which normally spends more than average tourists, while 4- and 5-star hotels are promoting packages to their regular guests.
“The outbreak allows Thai tourism to shift its focus to quality tourists rather than quantity.”
Disease-free tourism packages are set to launch during the fourth quarter of 2020 which is when tourists from Western countries usually seek warmer destinations.
But TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn warned that when the pandemic in Thailand is finally brought under control, international travellers must not become the cause of a second wave of infection. Yuthasak believes once domestic tourism resumes, locals will travel in smaller groups, and that land transportation will be the popular choice, thanks to lower oil prices.
New health screening practices for tourists before flying to Thailand may become the standard in the future. Proposals include “immunity passports” or risk-free certificates.
“If the tourism industry cannot bounce back stronger from the downturn, it will be difficult to restore the overall economy.”
THE TRAVEL BUBBLE
Thailand is considering the idea of forming “travel bubbles” with countries that have demonstrated similar success in suppressing the Covid-19 virus. The announcement comes as a number of nations, including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, New Zealand and of course China have expressed interest in forming a reciprocal travel pact with Thailand.
This would involve governments agreeing their citizens could travel back and forth between the countries within the “bubble”, without imposing conditions such as mandatory quarantine or self-isolation. The term “green lanes” has also been used.
An aide to Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has confirmed that a video conference meeting is scheduled to take place on June 26, when the PM will discuss the matter with the leaders of several interested countries, mostly regional Asian nations that have been able to reduce their Covid-19 case numbers to manageable levels. The PM has previously said travel bubbles could provide a much-needed boost to tourism.
Tourism, such a vital part of the country’s GDP (up to 20% when you include all the downstream workers and contractors), has been completely obliterated after the country closed down its international airports and borders in late March, early April this year.
Thailand currently has a ban on international flights, with the only exceptions being to facilitate the repatriation of Thai nationals and allow foreign work permit holders to return. The ban is currently in place until June 30 and the PM has said it will be reviewed closer to that date. He says any lifting of the embargo will need to be done with great caution to prevent a resurgence of the Covid-19 virus.
THAILAND EYES CHINA AND NEW ZEALAND TO FIT IT'S TRAVEL BUBBLE
The authorities will discuss the possibility of creating a “travel bubble” in collaboration with countries that have been able to bring Covid-19 infections under control, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on June 12/ 2020
The two countries currently being considered are China and New Zealand.
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said that creating this travel bubble was possible if every arrival into Thailand is tested for Covid-19.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said this move was being taken into consideration after CCSA said it may open the country to international flights after June 30.
Tourists using this travel bubble will be required to have “fit to fly” certification and hold a medical certificate that is valid for no more 72 hours.
Phiphat added that the stimulus package for tourism, expected to be implemented from July to October, will be discussed on 16 June.