You have to wonder what the Thai government is thinking sometimes when you see the ‘plans’ they keep coming up with to allow foreign tourists back into Thailand. Plans that will never work out the way they expect.
Not with the strict restrictions, mandated 14-day quarantine and expensive costs tourists would be expected to deal with in order to be allowed into Thailand.
The latest in what now seems to be a long line of Thai government ‘plans’ to allow foreign tourists back into Thailand was announced yesterday — the long stay tourist visa plan — a plan that may be kicked off in October.
Already, that plan is being savaged on social media, and on websites all over the Internet, as people who would be interested in being able to visit Thailand for more than a couple of weeks are saying “Nope. I won’t be doing that”.
So what is Thailand’s long stay tourist visa plan this time?
Requirements for a long stay tourist visa for Thailand
As with every other tourist visa plan the Thai government has floated during the COVID pandemic, and then backed down on as soon as they see foreigners are just laughing at the requirements outlined in it, the latest long stay tourist visa for Thailand plan has the following requirements:
- A foreigner who wishes to stay for a long period (Long-stay travel) in Thailand.
- A foreigner who has acknowledged they are willing to comply with Thailand’s public health measures in Thailand, and agree to conduct a state quarantine at an Alternative Local State Quarantine (ALSQ) for 14 days.
- A foreigner who provides evidence of long-term residency in Thailand, including evidence of payment for the hotel accommodation or hospital accommodation that provides Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) service in Thailand and at least one piece of the following evidence:
Proof of payment for hotel accommodation or hospital accommodation after the state quarantine
A copy of ownership of an apartment or condominium belonging to foreigners or family members of foreigners
A copy of a rental license or deposit payment of the purchase of apartment, condominium, or house by foreigners in Thailand.
With these requirements, the Thai government of Prayut Chan-o-cha explained they expect up to 1,200 foreign tourists to take advantage of the new plan. Tourists who will bring around 1 billion baht per month into Thailand.
Why will Thailand’s long stay tourist visa plan not work this time?
Sadly, again, it is the same old story with the Thai government — wanting to get foreign tourists back to Thailand as they know, without them, the effect on the Thai economy will be even more dire than it already is, but refusing to accept them normally like much of the rest of the world has now decided to do.
It is also a case of using foreign tourists as walking ATMs. Something many people have a problem with, it seems.
Only tourists from ‘certain countries’ — Before this new long stay tourist visa in Thailand even kicks off, the government has already announced it would only be available to tourists from certain countries. Those they feel are ‘safe’ or have extremely low cases of COVID-19.
With cases skyrocketing in many European countries, that shuts out pretty much all of Europe, as well as the United States, Canada, Australia, much of Africa, Latin America and most of Asia.
Who does that leave?
Who knows, but there are rumors there may be an ‘approved list of countries’ forthcoming from the Thai government in the next few days.
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A mandatory 14-day quarantine — The minute a mandatory 14-day quarantine is announced, most foreign tourists immediately reply “Nope”.
After all, when this quarantine in Thailand must be taken in an expensive Thai hotel or hospital, most tourists would have to spend more than they wanted to spend on the entire holiday they plan to take just to sit in an expensive hotel room for two weeks staring at four walls.
Few people are that desperate when it comes to entering Thailand it seems.
The cost — Not only is a mandatory and expensive COVID-19 health insurance policy also presumably required (?), the hotel you will stay in for the first two weeks is charging high rates, and flights are far higher than normal as you would only be able to arrive into Thailand on designated chartered flights.
Tourists would also be required to pay for their room and board expenses up front for at least the first three months (hotel room/condo rent etc).
Then you look at the amount of money the Thai government thinks foreign tourists arriving on these long stay tourist visas will spend — 1 billion baht from 1,200 people — and that comes out at 833,333 baht, or around $26,800 a month per person.
Considering that would be over $80,400 for a three-month stay in Thailand, you have to ask did the Thai government even do the calculations? Or did they just pull a magic “1 billion baht” figure out of the air?
Thailand is fun. Thailand under quarantine and regulations? Not fun — Foreign tourists go to Thailand because it is fun. The people are lovely, the food is incredible and you can travel freely doing anything you want to do.
Under the Thai government’s latest long stay tourist visa plan?
Trapped in quarantine for your first two weeks, multiple COVID tests before being allowed to leave, and then likely tracked the whole time you are in Thailand (more details about this latest plan are set to be released by the Thai government in the next few days, but tracking could be one of them).
Much of the fun of being in Thailand is also being able to decide on where to stay when you get there. With a mandatory upfront payment for every hotel or condo you will stay in for your entire 3-month stay, however, that is no longer possible either.
When you look at Thailand the way it used to be, and then compare it with what the Thai government seems to think foreign tourists will put up with now, it is no wonder even people desperate to have a holiday in the southeast Asian country are refusing to consider this plan.
Other countries — There are too many other countries now open for foreign tourists that are cheaper, have easier requirements for admittance and do not require a 14-day mandatory quarantine before a holiday can even begin.
Needless to say, most people who want to travel abroad during the current COVID panic are considering travel to these countries long before they consider Thailand under a long stay tourist visa.
Will this Thailand long stay tourist visa plan ever get off the ground?
Honestly, who knows?
Plans keep being announced and then they collapse a few days later when the government realizes few are interested.
In some respects, you have to feel sorry for the Thai government as they are trying to come up with a plan that will allow foreign tourists back into Thailand.
Sadly, with all the restrictions in every plan, however, none are likely to ever really get off the ground.
The problems with this latest plan are the same problems with every other one that has been announced as well.
1 million Thai hotel workers laid off in 2020 — that’s not the end as Thai tourism industry in danger of collapse
Finally, it is not just that it is unacceptable for 99% of foreign tourists who hear about it.
It is also that, even if 1,200 foreign tourists did arrive in Thailand on the long stay tourist visa plan per month, that is a teeny tiny drop in the bucket to the 40 million tourists that were expected to arrive in Thailand in 2020 before the country’s borders were tightly shut.
Those 1,200 foreign tourists may be able to help keep a handful of businesses involved in the Thai tourist industry still operating, although that is also doubtful as they are likely to be spread all over the country once they are allowed to travel. They cannot save the entire country’s tourist industry, however.
An industry that is slowly collapsing daily and, without the admittance of large numbers of foreign tourists to Thailand with few or no restrictions, has little chance of surviving for much longer.