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The ministry of tourism is promising international visitors this month despite delay

3 Oct 2020

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports promises to get in 1,200 long-stay visitors in October, prompting a pause in the first batch of visitors under the Unique Tourist Visa (STV). 

"The first two Chinese groups had a prospective scheduled for October 8, but as certain entry procedures need to be solved, those itineraries need to be rescheduled to another October date," said Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports. 

Following the ratification of the STV by the cabinet on Sept 15, the system was formally approved by the Royal Gazette declaration on Sept 29. 

But since this form of visa is comparatively recent, it requires more time for officials to maintain a seamless operation at the originating place. 

Mr Phiphat maintained that the pause would not impact the whole schedule in which at least 1,200 visitors are supposed to be accepted by Thailand. Before determining when to continue with the next step: reducing the quarantine duration to seven days, the ministry will track the first 30-day activity. 

Mr Phiphat is trying to convince a public that is already skeptical of the reopening scheme. 

"Foreign tourists going through this scheme pose a danger at a minor level since, unlike illicit border crossings, they have to travel to specified destinations with traceable routes, which are more dangerous and we can make further efforts to avoid potential pathogens through such networks," he added. 

Mr Phiphat welcomed requests from the private sector to shorten or abolish the quarantine duration to draw short-stay visitors from low-risk countries, especially from the Association of Thai Travel Agents. It's too premature to function on that thought, he said. 

Mr. Phiphat said, "The so-called 14-7-6 formula is on the radar [for 14-day, seven-day and six-hour quarantines], but we need to see how it goes phase by phase." "The most significant aspect is that nobody would be able to see international visitors enter their towns without quarantine in local communities." 

He also wanted to make clear that, as some sources have indicated, every province hosting alternate local state quarantine (ALSQ) facilities could be a destination for long-stay travelers, not only Phuket and Samui. 

Only Bangkok and Phuket will receive STV tourists in October, Thapanee Kiatphaibool, deputy governor for tourism goods and company at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said, as tourists are expected to fly into a city that has an international airport and ALSQ facilities. 

 

"From three to nine hotels, Phuket has now expanded the amount of ALSQ facilities," Mrs Thapanee said. "Yet Samui hotels are waiting for clearance.

So for now, only Bangkok and Phuket can be the primary destinations."