TAT confirms special tourist visa scheme
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has confirmed that the initiative to welcome foreign tourists back to Thailand under the Special Tourist Visa (STV) scheme will proceed as planned, though it might be delayed due to paperwork procedures.
TAT governor Yutthasak Supasorn said that despite the delay, the first group of tourists from China will arrive in Phuket under the STV scheme within this month.
Previously, Phuket had prepared to receive its first group of tourists from China who were expected to arrive next week under the STV scheme aimed at supporting Thailand's economic recovery.
In the initial stage of reopening, the first flight, scheduled to land on Oct 8, is expected to carry 120 tourists from Guangzhou.
However, Pilot Officer Thani Chuangchoo, director of Phuket international airport, said a check with the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has found no confirmation of chartered flights from China.
"As far as I know, just as in the news, the flights will be chartered flights with a limited number of passengers, and they must follow the measures as considered by the Thai government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs from their point of origin," he said.
According to the airport's flight schedule from Oct 26 onwards, international inbound and outbound commercial flights have not yet been approved, Plt Off Thani said, adding that the airport has yet to take any action and is waiting for orders from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
Gen Natthapon Nakpanich, head of the CCSA's panel on the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, said on Wednesday that the STV scheme will first be introduced on the resort islands of Phuket and Samui.
He said the first group of foreign arrivals is considered a low-risk group because there have been no new Covid-19 cases in Guangzhou for an extended period.
In an article published on tna.mcot.com on Thursday, Pailin Chuchottaworn, head of a panel assigned to steer economic management measures, said that it may now be the time for the government to review its measures to tackle Covid-19.
He said that Thailand has been commended for its ability to curb the spread of the pandemic, but he questioned if it is worth Thailand maintaining its Covid-free status at the expense of the economy.
"Thailand will remain the only country that is kept safe for the duration of the pandemic [until vaccines are available]. But does it want to keep this record at the expense of the economy?" Mr Pailin asked.