Thailand’s borders have been proven to be hard to enter for most of the year following their lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, recent changes to their visas policies means that travelers from all nations can gain entry to the Land of Smiles. Here’s all you need to know about this story, and what it means for travelers around the world.
Thailand’s Tourism Industry
Thailand is a popular holiday destination for all types of travelers, from boutique hotel jet-setters to hostel-sharing backpackers. In 2019, 38 million tourists visited the country, and Bangkok was crowned the most visited city on the planet. As a result, tourism amounts for a great deal of its GDP; travel and tourism in 2019 amounted for as much as 21% of its GDP.
With tourism contributing so much for Thailand, the effects of the pandemic have been severe. With little-to-no tourists coming into the country, thousands of businesses have had to shut down and countless jobs have been lost. Those in the tourism industry have been pleading with the government to do something to attract tourists to the nation once more, and with this week’s changes to the STV (Special Tourist Visa), it seems they have got their wish.
Throughout the pandemic, Thailand has been creating, changing and updating visa requirements in a bid to safely allow tourists to enter the country. Where once they required travelers to show proof of funds to the tune of 500,000 baht ($16,336 USD), they removed this requirement as it deemed to be too prohibitive.
However, it seems that they have yet to find the solution to their tourism woes. The STV – a visa that was created for foreign tourists during the pandemic in a bid to attract more foreigners to Thailand – has so far proven to be unsuccessful, with only 825 visitors arriving on the visa since late October.
As a result, the Thai government have taken the measure to allow travelers from any country to apply for the STV, whereas previously only those from low-risk countries were allowed to apply. Whether this is enough to attract further visitors to the country remains to be seen, but it is a positive step in the right direction.
Entry to Thailand is still only permitted with a mandatory stay in a quarantine facility. This too has proven to be a prohibitive factor of entry; the mandatory 14-day period is a long time to spend in quarantine, and the stays can be pricey, with the cheapest option still costing more than $1000.
However, there are further visa changes being discussed that may make two weeks in quarantine more palatable. A proposal to extend on-arrival visa exemptions from 30 days to 45 days is to be presented to Thailand’s Cabinet, with the extra 15 days added on to make up for the two weeks spent in quarantine.
What Does This Mean For Travelers?
This news is bound to be received warmly in the traveling community, as now anyone is free to apply for the STV and enjoy an extended stay in the Land of Smiles. With cases growing back home, quiet beaches and fantastic hotel promotions, Thailand is growing to be a more enticing option each day. However, with costly mandatory quarantine and a recent spike in cases, it remains to be seen whether the changes will make a huge difference to tourist numbers in the country.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories