Special visa provisions prompt TAT inquiries
The special tourist visa (STV) scheme is starting to gain momentum as overseas offices under the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) report high interest from tour agents.
After the cabinet approved the STV scheme last week, all TAT offices in Europe received a number of calls and emails asking for more details about the visa process and available period, said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
For instance, the TAT London office reported 31 inquiries on one day after the news broke. But the scheme still requires an official announcement from the Immigration Bureau, meaning the TAT can clarify little at the moment.
Mr Yuthasak said that although tourists and tour agents from many countries have shown interest in booking long vacations via STV, Thailand may begin with low-risk countries first, such as those in Scandinavia and Central Europe that have lower infection rates.
TAT London conducted a tourist survey polling 1,200 respondents last month, the results of which showed that 22% of tourists are ready to come back to Thailand from October 2020 to March 2021 if borders are reopened to tourists from October this year.
Of the respondents, 45% said they will consider their trips after March 2021.
But as 23% still haven't made a decision, the TAT reported that Thailand has a chance to use safety travel measures to persuade this group to consider new trips again.
Srisuda Wanapinyosak, deputy governor of TAT for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, said the 14-day quarantine is an obstacle for tourists who would like to spend a holiday in Thailand, as only 6% accepted this rule.
For those who've already agreed to be kept in quarantine for two weeks, the TAT will help them reduce stressful conditions by conducting online recreational activities for in-room practices, such as virtual yoga and meditation class, and will work with alternative state quarantine sites that agree to arrange offline activities, such as live music shows that tourists can watch from their windows.
Mrs Srisuda said the agency also needs to extend the long-stay target from retirees to other groups with the potential to stay in Thailand for longer than one month.
"We're aiming for digital nomads and healthcare seekers. They are often younger and can work remotely from anywhere," she said. "Before the pandemic, seaside Thai destinations already welcomed a substantial amount of digital nomads. If we can provide safety measures, they will consider coming back again."