The head of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association welcomed the government’s move to slowly reopen the borders to international travelers, but said the initial Special Tourist Visa campaign won’t significantly help the tourism industry.
Ekasit Ngampichet on Sept. 30 called the STV concept a “good idea”, but the restrictions on the campaign will limit its impact.
Only 1,200 Special Tourist Visas will be issued a month and, for now, all travelers must go to Phuket. Travelers must arrive via private jet or charter flight and spend their first 14 days in an “alternative state quarantine” hotel and cannot leave the province for the first 21 days. They also must stay in the kingdom for 90 days.
Combined with requirements for pre-arrival coronavirus testing, significant paperwork demands and the need to carry US$100,000 in health insurance, use of the program will be limited.
The first STV charter flight carrying a tour group of 130 Chinese travelers will arrive in Phuket Oct. 8.
Ekasit said the small number of STV travelers would not generate significant revenue to revive the country’s tourism industry. Thailand will receive fewer than the maximum 1,200 STV visitors in October. By comparison, more than 3 million tourists arrived in October 2019.
Nonetheless, Ekasit said Pattaya businesses are pleased to see the government taking the first step toward reopening. More hotels are applying to become ASQ hotels in hopes that the STV program will be expanded to Pattaya later.