Thailand has been welcoming its first intake of foreign tourists since March of this year, when its borders were slammed shut due to the pandemic. Whilst the number of visitors this month is far below the usual for this time of the year, it serves as a welcome sign that things are slowly but surely starting to go back towards a semblance of normality.
First Tourists Arrive In Thailand
According to statistics released by Ministry for Tourism and Sports, Thailand welcomed more than 1000 foreign visitors in the month of October. Whilst this may not be a great deal compared to the more than 3 million who usually flock to its shores in October, it’s certainly an increase on the previous month, where no foreign tourists had been recorded entering the country.
Thailand has been further buoyed by more tourists committing to travel to the country after securing the new Special Tourist Visa (STV). Last month saw 331 tourists enter the country on the new visa type, which allows its holders to spend between 90 and 270 days in the country. Last week, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) revealed that the number of tourists arriving with the STV has more than doubled to 681.
As of November 19th, the TAT announced that of the 681 STV holders that are due to arrive, 263 had completed their mandatory quarantine period, with 134 still in the process of quarantine. A further 284 are expected to arrive by the end of the month.
More than a million Americans head to Thailand each year, with the figure rising year after year. With news that the country is starting to open itself up to foreign tourists, there are bound to be smiles on the faces of both foreigners and Thais alike.
Turning To China
It isn’t just travelers from Europe and North America that Thailand is courting, with many Thais calling for Chinese tourists to be targets to make up for the drastic reduction in tourist numbers.
The Association of Thai Travel Agents have called upon the government to allow tourists from 22 Chinese provinces that are deemed to carry a low risk of Covid-19. Claiming that up to 300,000 Chinese tourists to enter each month, the President of ATTA has urged the government to consider the move in order to prevent further collapses in the Thai tourism and travel industries.
Thailand is the most popular destination for Chinese travelers, who were the first nationality to be welcomed into Thailand in 7 months when a group from Shanghai arrived in October.
Thailand Relaxes Entry Requirements
Whilst the number of STV entrants this month doubled the figures from last month, it is thought that even more will arrive into the country in the coming months.
This is due to the fact that Thailand removed their prohibitive financial requirements for tourists who wish to enter on the standard Tourist Visa, which grants entry for a period of up to 60 days. Until recently, tourists had to submit proof of funds to the tune of 500,000 baht in the bank, yet this has been removed to encourage more travel from foreign tourists.
Thailand’s recent US travel advisory downgrade from Level 2 to Level 1 is also bound to have a positive effect on tourism, as people start to plan safe trips in the New Year. As one of only four countries to be granted Level 1 status, it’s a positive reflection on Thailand’s efforts towards fighting the virus, and one that’s likely to grant them additional tourists in the near future.
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