Following the launch of its Special Tourist Visa, Thailand has now welcomed its first international travellers since its borders closed. Rose Dykins reports
Thailand has reopened its borders to international travellers, with the launch of a new 90-day Special Tourist Visa (STV).
Earlier this month, the first batch of international tourists arrived in Thailand since border restrictions were imposed due to the pandemic. It was a group of 41 visitors from Shanghai, who flew into Bangkok, having obtained special tourist visas – available only to tourists staying in the country for at least 90 days.
Last month, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced the new long-stay visa, which is the first stage of generally reopening the nation to tourism.
STV visa applicants must initially fill out a questionnaire so that their eligibility can be assessed. They then receive a response within five business days confirming whether or not they will be invited to begin the process for obtaining the visa – which involves several components:
Travel and medical insurance
Those who do apply for the long-stay STV visa must be travelling from a country deemed “low risk”. Details remain about which countries this includes, and there is no definitive list as of yet.
Applicants will need to show evidence of a medical and travel insurance policy. Insurance needs to include cover for at least US$100,000 in medical treatment, a minimum of 400,000 Thai baht (£9,855) for other medical and accident expenses, and must last for the full 90 days.
Thailand is also currently offering travel insurance to international tourists that provides cover if they contract the virus during their time in the country.
Proof of pre-booked accommodation
STV applicants need to book a hotel or private accommodation for the full 90 days to qualify. They will need to show proof of the booking, or the lease of the home belonging to family members or friends they will be staying with.
Collection from Thai embassy
Once the STV visa application has been approved, tourists must collect their visa from a designated Thai embassy or consulate.
When they arrive there, they must also present a “Fit To Fly” medical certificate that states they do not have Covid-19, issued at least 72 hours before their departure date.
The processing fee for the STV visa is 10,000 Thai baht (£246) excluding VAT and the additional cost of the visa itself is 2,000 Thai baht (£49), which is paid at the embassy. The visa can be renewed two times before it expires, making it possible to stay for a total length of up to 270 days.
Initially, just 1,200 of the STV visas will be issued per month. International tourists will be able to apply for them until September 2021.
Negative Covid test result
Upon arrival in Thailand, travellers will be tested for Covid-19. If the result is negative, they will pass through immigration. If it is positive, they will be sent immediately to an approved hospital.
14-day quarantine in state-approved facilities
They must also quarantine for 14 days when they arrive in Thailand in an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) approved hotel or hospital.
The expense and many steps of applying for Thailand’s STV visa is an indication of the hurdles international travellers will initially have to endure to complete long-stay, long-haul trips in the near future.