Recently in many Thai and Foreign media has been a headline that has stated, usually in bold letters with catchy titles, that Foreign tourists are banned from Thailand until 2021 or a similar statement. One of our most popular regular features here at The Pattaya News, which is devoted to factual, unbiased, neutral and timely information is our Fact Check where we look at these claims and look at the facts to make a determination on if the statement is true. This feature is not based on speculation (even educated), opinions or guess work but cold, hard facts.
So, Is Thailand closed to all foreign tourists until 2021?
Let’s take a look:
Q. Did The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) really state that foreign tourists are banned until 2021?
A. No. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, a director of International Marketing for Southeast Asia and the Pacific and deputy governor (of which there are many) for the TAT, gave an unofficial opinion at a marketing webinar, not an official government meeting, to other attendees that was widely quoted as “fact” and “policy.” His opinion is that foreign tourism will not return until 2021. He also stated that letting foreign tourists into the country had not currently been discussed.
Q. What is the difference between what he said and official policy?
A. An official statement would come from the Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn or the Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn. This would come in an official form with press releases and likely made in conjunction with the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the CAAT (Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand). His statement, although educated, is an opinion and not official policy of the TAT, CCSA or CAAT.
Q. So, then what official statements have been made?
A. At this point, nothing other then the groups of foreign nationals allowed in on a case by case basis with a certificate of entry and permission given by their local embassy or consulate. This list can be found here in this related article.
Q. What about the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand? When will they open international inbound flights?
A. Director-General Chula Sukmanop of the CAAT stated on August 12, 2020 that this would be a decision that would need to be taken in conjunction with the CCSA. Flights are coming into Thailand but are currently repatriation flights and for those allowed in the categories listed above. General flights for tourists or “anyone” who wanted to come and do a quarantine are not yet allowed.
Q. When will retirement/non married couples/long stay tourists who stay three to six months/religious visas/non official education visas for language schools/etc. be allowed to return?
A. There is no official date. The primary reason these categories are not allowed yet, according to the CCSA, is lack of alternative state quarantine for all visitors which is required. Currently, the largest amount of people returning to Thailand, according to the CCSA, is those with work permits in what they refer to as critical fields such as manufacturing and development.
Q. What about Thailand Elite Visa’s? I am desperate to come back. Can I buy my way in?
A. Not at this time. Although Elite Visa’s are approved “in principle” they are not yet allowing in Elite visa holders. The management of the Elite Visa program says they will inform Elite Visa holders when they can return through e-mail.
Q. So when will Thailand open to tourists with NO restrictions and NO quarantines?
A. There is no current date for this provided. It may very well be 2021. It may very well be sooner. It depends on so many circumstances, situations and possibilities that it is impossible to give a correct answer. We get asked this question at least two dozen times a week, showing that there is substantial demand to return to Thailand. We sympathize and understand how many people want to return to the country. However, there is simply not a date at this time provided by the Thai Government.
Q. But (insert country here) is open/opening for tourism! I can go visit (insert country here) right now with no restrictions!
A. It is unlikely the country you name has, officially, zero locally spread cases of Covid-19. Officially, Thailand has no cases of Covid-19 that are not imported and officially recorded. They would like to retain that record, based on what the CCSA has stated. This is why borders are still locked down as Thailand has aimed for an elimination and zero sum strategy vs. a suppression strategy of the virus like the majority of countries worldwide.
The Pattaya News will continue to keep readers updated with the facts regarding the tourism situation in Thailand.