Thailand is one of the most tourist friendly countries in the world. That is when it has tourists. The Kingdom has been closed to foreign tourists for months because of SARS-CoV-2 and the Covid-19 disease. To its credit Thailand has done an admirable job controlling the virus, especially given its border with and close economic ties to China. This country of nearly 70,000,000 people has recorded only 35 coronavirus deaths as of September 21, 2020.
The Thai economy, however, depends heavily on foreign tourists. Restaurants, hotels, and their employees in popular tourist spots like Phuket have suffered greatly. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has proposed several plans to bring tourists back.
On September 15, 2020, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced Thailand’s new 90-day STV visa for long-stay tourists who agree to stay at least 90 days in the country. Applicants for the visa will have to book a hotel or private accommodation for the full 90 days in order to qualify, and they also must agree to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. After the quarantine is completed, the tourists will be granted free movement.
These are the program details released so far:
- Cost: 2000 baht
- Length: 90 days. The visa can be renewed two times just before expiry, making the total length of stay possible for up to 270 days.
- How Many Will Be Issued? STV visas will be issued at a rate of 1200 per month to start.
- Countries to be included: Unknown.
- Quarantine Rules: All applicants who receive approved STV visas must agree to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
- Proof of Stay: In order to qualify for the visa, tourists will need to show proof of a stay equalling a full 90 days or more. This will include apartment rental contracts, confirmed hotel bookings, lease of a condo, copy of ownership of a dwelling belonging to family/friends.
- Start Date: Unknown
The program will certainly also involve testing for the virus most likely before departure, upon arrival and at the end of the quarantine. Those details have not been officially announced. The provisions of this program are likely to change. That is par for the course with the current Thai government, which is a military junta.
Thailand is one of my favorite places to visit. The people are friendly. The cost of living is low. There are great beaches and many interesting places to experience. But being from the U.S., one the the world’s Covid-19 hotspots, I think it will be months before I’m able to go back. I hope you have better luck.
Would you visit Thailand under the program as it is presently structured? The 90-day requirement for a stay would be a deal breaker for most people.