Thailand now clarifies aspects of its new welcome policy

Thai authorities are desperately trying to fill the empty spaces of international tourism.

We know a lot more today than we did yesterday about the latest “Test and Go” entry policy for nationals of 46 chosen countries. They include the traditional markets (UK, US, Australia and mainland Europe) but exclude most of Africa and Latin America.  Group tours won’t be starting any time soon.  India and Russia are not amongst the chosen 46. China is there, but Chinese ambassador to Thailand, Han Zhiqiang, stated last night that his country is facing new coronavirus outbreaks and has renewed its travel ban.

The confusion over compulsory medical insurance seems to have been lifted too. Tourism Authority of Thailand governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, said that the “Covid insurance coverage” had been reduced from US$100,000 to US$50,000 which appears to negate the concern that the policy could include non-coronavirus medical emergencies.  Such policies can be foreign or Thai. The Thai General Insurance Association will amend its website and update its tariffs in due course after consultation with government partners.

However, non-Covid extra medical insurance could be required for specified groups, such as O/A retiree visa holders, as proclaimed by the deputy health minister two days ago.  Most foreign expats over 50 do not actually use this visa as there are several other possibilities. Another group possibly affected will be applicants for the recently-extended Special Tourist Visa, designed for longstay snowbirds, which currently needs the double-whammy insurance schedule.  But the heavily-bureaucratic STV has never been a popular option.

Other clarifications for “Test and Go” are that all fully-vaccinated entrants must have a negative RT-PCR test 72 hours, or less, before departure and another one on arrival. This latter test will not necessarily be performed at the airport, but at the government-registered hotel which entrants must book in advance and remain there closeted until the result is known. After one night or so, passengers will be free to travel and sleep wherever they like, including accommodation in private houses and condos nationwide.

Apart from “Test and Go”, there are to be two other routes to entry to the Land of Smiles. “Living in Blue Zone” is a revamped Sandbox scheme which will be not be of much interest to travellers unless they do not hail from the 46 nominated countries for “Test and Go.” The third scheme is “Happy Quarantine” under which unvaccinated visitors must stay securely in alternative quarantine facilities for 10 confined days.  Not much fun, that one.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will permit Thai embassies to update their current websites only after confirmation of policy in the Royal Gazette and after consultation with other agencies including the immigration bureau whose officers will be busy learning the new schedules. Hopefully, this will be sometime next week. Never try to hurry the Orient.