PHUKET — The special visa would allow tourists to visit Thailand during the coronavirus pandemic was delayed indefinitely just 48 hours before it was supposed to come into effect.
Officials on Phuket, the tourist island slated to be the experimental ground for the visas, said on Tuesday preparations for receiving foreign tourists are not completed in time. A tourism agency chief confirmed the news on Wednesday, adding that the group of 300 Chinese tourists and businessmen who were scheduled to arrive in Thailand tomorrow would no longer be admitted due to the delay.
The government will not offer them any refunds for flights, accommodation, insurance, and other fees they already paid for the Special Tourist Visas, or STV, since the delay is not officially considered as a cancellation of the policy.
“It’s part of the conditions of the STV that they had to pay first,” Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said by phone. “So, there’s no need for those refunds, because their trip is not cancelled, it’s just delayed.”
It is unclear how much the would-be visitors paid for their flights and stays in Thailand. Officials previously said the group of 300 Chinese would be holidaying in the Kingdom for months.
“The batch of tourists expected for tomorrow can’t come because we haven’t worked out all the details to receive them,” Narit Kanjanopas, Ministry of Tourism and Sport spokesman said Wednesday by phone.
But Yuthasak the tourism authority director said he’s confident the special visa will be implemented later this month after all necessary measures are in place. According to government reports, the next batch of tourists under the special visa program are also expected to arrive on Oct. 21 from Europe.
“They will come within October for sure,” Yuthasak said.
The Cabinet approved the Special Tourist Visa in September, paving ways for foreigners to visit Thailand for 270 days and reviving the tourism industry devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
To qualify for the program, the visitors must arrive with a health certificate confirming they did not have COVID-19. They must also agree to enter a quarantine for 14 days, which they must pay for, as well as presenting proof of accommodation booking, health insurance, and several other documents.
“We already have the names of the places they will go quarantine, but all the details haven’t been hammered out,” tourism ministry spokesman Narit said. “We will also need further documents from the Ministry of the Interior Affairs.”