Thailand offers Visa on Arrival (VoA) to Indian tourists. Is that still valid? Will the requirements for the visa change once travel restrictions have eased?
Regarding the visa to Thailand, currently, the issuance of Visa on Arrivals (VoA) for Thailand is temporarily suspended from March 13, 2020 to September 30, 2020. This measure applies to all nineteen countries/territories that had earlier been entitled to apply for a Visa on Arrival. Additionally, VFS for Thailand visa application in India is still closed until further notice.
For now, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has announced an extension of a temporary ban on all international flights to Thailand until June 30, 2020. This ban does not apply to state or military aircraft, emergency landing, technical landing without disembarkation, humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights, repatriation flights and cargo flights. The passengers on board the aforementioned aircraft will be subjected to the measures under communicable disease law, such as 14 days state quarantine, and the regulations under the Emergency Decree on State of Emergency.
As for visa requirements or policies, we are still waiting for guidelines from the government. For any other information regarding visas, please read the official responses on the VFS FAQ section.
What is the situation in Thailand right now?
I can say that the situation in Thailand has improved; our cases have reduced to single-digit numbers or even zero infected per day. Therefore, there are relaxations in Bangkok and many parts in Thailand. But social distancing, as well as safety and hygrine measures, are the norm.
From May 17, the Royal Thai Government has approved the second phase for easing restrictions. This includes the reopening of food courts, malls, cafeterias and eateries with proper hygiene standards and social distancing norms.
Domestic flights have been reinstated from May 1, 2020 to fourteen Thai provinces after a month-long suspension. Airlines like Nok Air, AirAsia, Thai Lion Air and Thai Vietjet Air will gradually increase the frequency and comply with the safety measures guidelines set by the Ministry of Public Health and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.
How open is the country to foreign tourists? What changes in tourism can we expect in the future?
As mentioned above, all international flights to Thailand are currently temporary suspended until June 30, 2020 and visa restriction prevail at this time. This is an important measure, similar to India and other countries, which has been taken to control the spread of the virus.
In terms of tourism, we expect to see the movement of domestic tourists first. Once the situation improves, we will see foreign tourists coming to Thailand. I hope to see this happen by the 4th quarter of this year. For any guideline or the standard operation procedure (SOP) for foreign tourists visiting Thailand in the near future we might need to wait and see.
However, the Tourism Authority of Thailand continues to maintain and promote Thailand as a “Top of Mind Destination” for all foreign tourists.
We are also working with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and Thai tourism businesses to ensure that all Thai and foreign tourists remain confident in terms of their safety and health while travelling. We are working on an ‘Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration’ (SHA) certification for tourist touchpoints.
Are we looking at things like health passports, quarantine requirements or COVID-19 tests when visiting?
I believe that once we are open to foreign tourists in Thailand, the situation around the world would have improved. A leisure trip would be difficult if tourists are required to go under a 14-day quarantine. For international flights, in the beginning, we might require some proof of health. Still, such guidelines or the standard operation procedure (SOP) for foreign tourists are yet to be announced. We will have to wait and see.
For official information, the Royal Thai Government has launched an online platform ‘Thai Chana’ to retain the country’s effectiveness in COVID-19 control measures, following the approval of the second phase for easing restriction. This is somewhat similar to the Aarogya Setu app just that in Thailand, we must use Thai Chana to check-in and check-out while visiting restaurants and shops.