Leisure tourist Brits now have a visa route back to Thailand
The Thai embassy in London has now amended its website to show that British and Irish nationals can now apply for a 60 day tourist visa which can be extended at Thai immigration offices for 30 days more. The same information appears on the websites of some mainland European countries.
Previously, British nationals could apply only for a non-immigrant visa if they came within the ten or so categories of permissible returnees, mainly business and work permit groups, some property owners, the super-rich and those with Thai dependants. Incidentally, the new offering Special Tourist Visa (STV), which offers a stay of between 90 and 270 days, is not available anywhere in Europe because of second-wave infections.
However, the 60 day tourist visa has a long list of documentary requirements such as Covid-19 medical insurance, various fit-to-fly and health tests, air ticket, proof of accommodation in Thailand and evidence of payment for Alternative State Quarantine in a registered hotel for a fortnight on landing. There is also the need to show a UK bank account with a continuous balance of around 13,000 pounds for the past six months. Most of these documents have to be shown when applying for a certificate of entry from the embassy and again at airport check-in.
British travel agent Greg Watkins said that the latest proposal offered hope for Brits who want to spend Christmas here with relatives or friends which had formerly been impossible for tourists. Tourism Authority of Thailand deputy governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool said that tourist visas are the most viable option at this point as there is no risk-rating on countries of origin for these applications.
In other developments, the first travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore, for people testing negative for the virus, will have able from next month to travel between the two cities without any quarantine. Hong Kong is planning further bubbles with Thailand, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, New Zealand, Switzerland and Vietnam. Travel experts say that a full tourist recovery won’t happen without a vaccine, but these tentative steps could give the industry a much-needed shot in the arm.