Earlier this week, Thai embassies worldwide removed the requirement that applicants for the two months’ single-entry tourist visa (SETV) needed to show a home-country bank account with the equivalent of 500,000 baht (12,800 pounds) in foreign currency sitting there for six months prior to application. It is very rare for announcements of this sort to be made first by diplomatic posts overseas rather than by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To ascertain the replacement instructions, you have to search individual embassy websites. The Thai embassy in London specifies only that “sufficient funds” for the vacation must be shown in a bank statement, whilst the Washington DC post actually specifies a very reasonable US$700 per person. But the Thai embassy in Helsinki specifies 30 euros per vacation day, with the additional clause that you must show a bank statement for a three months’ period prior to application. Individual embassies rule the roost.
The newly promoted SETV allows holders a stay of 60 days, presumably with the option to extend for a further month at a Thai immigration office. Unlike the more controversial Special Tourist Visa (STV), which appears to be linked to charter flights, the SETV is available from most countries and not only from those with a very low Covid-19 transmission rate. The STV is also more expensive as it requires general medical insurance on top of Covid-19 cover. Indeed, it is far from clear what the STV potential markets are or will be. The Thai tourist authority admits that STV arrivals over the next month will not even reach one thousand.
That said, the SETV is not cheap if all the elements for the embassy-awarded certificate of entry are totaled. Applicants need to pay in advance for a fortnight’s quarantine on arrival in a registered hotel (40,000 baht or around a thousand pounds) and the air ticket (average 22,000 baht or 550 pounds for direct flight cattle-class seat). On top of that, a variety of coronavirus tests and health certification must be provided (20,000 baht or 500 pounds). The Covid-19 insurance is easily obtained online from Thai General Insurance, the price dependent only on the country of flight origin and the length of cover. A British applicant, any age 0-99, will pay 4,400 baht or just over 100 pounds). Finally there is the registration fee with the embassy and ancillary costs which brings the grand total to about 100,000 baht or 2,500 pounds.
None the less, travel agents in Europe say there is a great deal of interest in the SETV. Greg Watkins, a London-based travel agent and ABTA representative, said, “A lot of people are very keen to get away from lockdown UK as soon as they can. One of Thailand’s attractions at the moment is its very low Covid-19 transmission rate, so affluent vacationers who can afford the on-costs are fleeing the British winter and the virus at one and the same time.” He added that one downside is the falling pound and Brexit. “If there is in fact no UK-EU exit deal, then the costs will rise another 10 percent or so.”