The Thai Government has agreed to allow in foreign tourists who agree to a 14-day quarantine and stay for at least 90 days. Two extensions will be available for 90 days each, with the lengthiest period for the new visa being 270 days.
Following the cabinet meeting last week, it was announced that the government will now issue these special visas (STV - short for ‘Special Tourist Visa’) scheme with a compulsory 14-day quarantine. Asia Pacific Superyachts is currently talking to the government with the suggestion that yacht owners could do the 14 day required quarantine onboard their yacht, reports APS co-founder Gordon Fernandes from his offices in Phuket, Thailand.
Fernandes is working with others in seeking permission from the government to ensure the Special Tourist Visa can also be used for yacht crews visiting Thailand, noting Phuket marinas are enthusiastically welcoming the reopening.
“Marinas are playing an increasingly important role globally and in South East Asia. Phuket marinas can handle all the needs of a superyacht and berths are available for yachts up to 130M’s in length at any one of Phuket’s many fully equipped marinas.”
He added: “There is a growing superyacht labour force with excellent docking facilities. Superyacht visits are increasing exponentially and over the past 15 years approximately 1,500 yachts and cruisers (prior to Covid-19) visited the ‘Pearl of the Andaman’ annually.
“On the eastern side of the country, the Gulf of Thailand and Koh Samui have also been seeing more superyachts visit each year and we want to help to start bringing them back,” adds Captain Charlie Dwyer, a co-founder of Asia Pacific Superyachts and based on Koh Samui.
In an article in the Bangkok Post, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced that the most important condition would be a 14-day quarantine. "Visitors can arrive for tourism or health services, and they can stay at alternative state quarantine facilities, specific areas or at hospitals that function as quarantine facilities," he said, adding: "Our public health system is amongst the best in the world and people can have confidence in it."
More information was reported in articles in Reuters, The Nation and The Thaiger. Deputy government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisaranakul said of the SVT plan: "The target is to welcome 100-300 visitors a week, or up to 1,200 people a month, and generate income of about 1 billion baht a month." Long-stay visitors could begin arriving next month, Ms Traisulee said. International tourists may stay in Thailand for 90 days with two extensions available for 90 days each, the lengthiest period for the new visa would be 270 days. The test will allow only 100 people on the first flight and 2-3 flights per week.
Deputy government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisaranakul said long-stay visitors would have to present proof of payment for their long stay in the country. This could be payment for a hotel reservation, or the lease of a condominium room. "The target is to welcome 100-300 visitors a week, or up to 1,200 people a month, and generate income of about 1 billion baht a month," she said. Long-stay visitors could begin arriving next month, Ms Traisulee said.
Although the tourism industry is delighted with the first step of reopening the country to international tourists, operators are prepared to see slow demand in the beginning because a 14-day quarantine is mandatory for those who want a special tourist visa (STV), said Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand.
Gordon Fernandes and Captain Dwyer along with many others have hopes that those aboard yachts & superyachts wanting to visit Phuket and other stunning islands in Thailand will be among visitors to use the new Special Tourist Visa; however, this is still to be confirmed by the government.
Images: APS, Shutterstock