Comparing the fourth quarter of this year to last, foreign tourism to Thailand is down >>drumroll<< 99.5%. Picking up from my previous post, Immigration, Quarantine, Visas, Travel Bubbles and More, here’s an early October update on the Special Tourist Visa and other pertinent immigration details.
Update: Nov 27, 2020 – See my latest Thailand COVID Update, including new visa details and flight options.
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Thailand Tourism COVID Update (Oct 4, 2020)
Who can enter Thailand today (or soon)?
*Start here for a pre-existing list of eligible entrants to Thailand
- Foreign nationals with a Special Tourist Visa
- Foreign nationals travelling for business are eligible for a 60-day non-immigrant visa (with bank statements demonstrating a balance of ≥THB500,000 for the previous six months.
- “APEC Business Travel Card” holders – Foreign nationals from one of eighteen “low-risk” APEC countries travelling for business or government purposes
- “Sportspersons who will compete in a closed area”
- Thailand Elite members (see below)
Thailand’s Special Tourist Visa [Updates]
*Start here for an overview of the Special Tourist Visa, including visa fees and duration
The first month of Special Tourist Visa kicks off next week – very much in trial phase as officials cross their fingers that (A) it works and everyone is kept safe and (B) the Thai tourism industry gets a small, but much-needed, cash injection. Indeed, the first 120 STV visitors are due to arrive on October 8th … from China (¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
Who’s eligible for an STV?
- “Low-risk” countries (TBA). Sorry, Donald.
- Up to 300 visitors per week
STV application period
- Applications are open now until next year, 30 September 2021.
- Including quarantine (14 nights), there’s a total 30-day minimum stay.
- Travel insurance: Applicants will need to have health insurance coverage up to THB3,000,000 (approx US$95,000). For reference, World Nomads offers two travel insurance plans for Thailand that meet this requirement – Standard Plan and Explorer Plan – though the exact level of coverage varies depending on your country of residence. For U.S. residents, the Standard Plan covers up to US$100,000 in emergency medical whereas Canadian and Kiwi residents receive up to CA/NZ$5,000,000 on the same plan. (See more FAQs about COVID and travel insurance).
- COVID test: ≤72 hours before departure
- Completed paperwork including a consent form that you’ll follow Thailand’s COVID rules, Fit to Fly Certificate and Medical Certificate for General Passengers.
- Show proof of payment for your post-quarantine accommodation (e.g. a hotel booking) or a house deed if staying with a friend or relative.
Only international charter flights or private (!) flights are allowed at the minute. Soooo… find a rich friend? (Sorry Donald, you fell at the first hurdle).
- 14-day mandatory quarantine (and COVID tests galore).
*Start here for an overview of quarantine requirements and Alternative State Quarantine accommodation (AQS).
Quick refresh: no matter your visa type, you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days (at your cost) at a certified hotel in Bangkok (AQS) or, coming soon, in Koh Samui (Alternative Local State Quarantine or ALQS).
Heads up – no alcohol.
Quarantine … without day-drinking: Think fourteen days of quarantine with no alcohol sounds dull? (I think we’ve established it’s not my quarantine brand). To spice things up (while stone-cold sober), AQS hotels are considering events and programs that guests will be able to watch from their hotel window or balcony. As well, they plan to offer all the virtual content you’ve been meaning to try since March: yoga, meditation, and online cooking classes. I don’t want to be cynical but – would you rather be at home with your boxed wine and Netflix?
7 days of quarantine? Just maybe (but probably not). While the Special Tourist Visa (STV) goes into its trial phase next week, if it’s safe and successful, tourism officials are considering reducing the 14-day quarantine period to 7 days. Expect details on this in November, contingent on 98.6% negative COVID tests from the first batch of STV visitors (296 out of 300 must test negative, sorry Donald).
How to apply for a Special Tourist Visa?
Three options, in increasing order of price.
1. The normal way: Contact the Royal Thai Embassy in your country.
2. The Longstay Thailand Company: Receive administrative assistance in getting an STV (I said STV, sorry Donald). 10,000 THB (+7%) application service fee to get help with the various hoop-jumping (approx US$315).
3. Join Thailand Elite: Got deep pockets and would rather pay someone to do the admin for your Special Tourist Visa? Apply to join Thailand Elite and get a five-year multi-entry visa with all the assistance you
need would expect for half a million Baht. Quarantine is still required but … probably comes with decent thread-count and really fancy water. (Memberships starting at THB500,000 / approx. US$16,000 with a 3+ month waiting period).
Don’t want to do any of the above?
Alternative Local State Quarantine (ALSQ)
In addition to Alternative State Quarantine accommodation (ASQ) in Bangkok, a handful of Koh Samui properties are in the process of registering for Alternative Local State Quarantine (ALSQ). Meaning? You can quarantine for the 14 days in (A) a big city you can’t explore or (B) on a pretty island you can’t see.
So far, 8 Koh Samui hotels are registered as ALSQ hotels with 15 more awaiting inspection. The hotels haven’t been announced yet but there are 8 ALSQ hotels in Phuket that give a good hint: Phuket’s list includes two Anantaras and a Banyan Tree property.
The September 26 deadline for visa extensions has been further extended to October 31st for individuals who have been in Thailand since March who still can’t return to their passport country for lack of flights, closed borders, etc.
- Make sure you’ve seen the 9 ways to help Koh Samui get through COVID – whether you’d like to help support the island food bank or donate to island animal shelters or elephant herds – there are some wonderful ways to get involved from a distance for as little as US$5 or $10.
- Join my email list and I’ll make sure you continue to get updates as we wade our way through the murk and muck of 2020.
Who's Loving 2020!?
Resources and further reading
- 23 Koh Samui Hotels Seek Alternative State Quarantine Certification
- 83% Drop in Foreign Tourists Expected by the End of 2020
- CCSA Panel to Approve Visa Scheme to Allow Foreign Tourists into Country
- If All Goes Well, Only 7 Days of Tourist Quarantine: Thai Tourism Minister
- Koh Samui ALSQs Prepared for New Visitors
- More Categories of Foreigners to Be Granted Entry to Thailand
- More Foreigners to Be Allowed Entry into the Country
- STV Visa (Special Tourist Visa)
- TAT Confirms Special Tourist Visa Scheme
- Thai Immigration Update: Deep Pockets, Apec’ers and Who Else Can Get Visas
- Thai Tourism Wants ‘Fun’ Quarantine to Lure Travelers
- Thailand Beaches May Limit Visitors until COVID-19 Vaccine Is Available
- Thailand to Slowly Restart Tourism with Flight from China
- The First Tourists to Arrive next Week on the Special Tourist Visa
- The Special Tourist Visa Is Now Official and Allows Tourists in from October 1
- Those in Thai Visa Hell Now Have until Oct. 31
- Travel like a Boss with a Thailand Elite Visa
- Visa Amnesty Runs to October 31