The following is a regular article that we update and post with the latest information for our readers, both new and legacy, to the number one question we get here at The Pattaya News which is “When can tourism return to Thailand?” especially in terms of limited restrictions, quarantines, rules, measures, etc. We update this article on a regular basis. The previous update was from November 1, 2020, this is up to date as of November 18th, 2020.
First off, a warning for our regular readers and those who scour every tourism Thailand article-this article will likely contain nothing new whatsoever that you are not already aware of and is purely being written as The Pattaya News gets many messages and e-mails daily on this exact question. If you are expecting an exact date or new information, you won’t find it here and can save yourself time by leaving now.
Therefore, having an easily searchable title and regularly updated article is one of the easiest solutions for this question.
Got it? Good. Because from here on we will be addressing what seems to be a significant majority of readers who have not read every article on the Thailand tourism situation and randomly google the phrase or search on our website.
The short answer is we don’t know. The long answer is a lot more complex.
First, it’s worth stating why Thailand still has closed borders and what seems to be an overly complex, obtuse and difficult system to enter the country for a very small group of people who are allowed.
Thailand, officially speaking, has little to no locally spread cases of Covid-19. Pattaya has had no recorded cases of the virus in about seven and a half months as of November, 2020.
Thailand is going for what they refer to as an elimination strategy, like New Zealand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Laos, China, Cambodia, Greenland, Australia, etc. The only acceptable number of cases of Covid-19 under this strategy that are locally spread is zero. Most countries have too many cases to pursue this strategy and are therefore going for a suppression strategy with regular increasing and decreasing restrictions and measures designed to slow down the spread of the virus until a vaccine or better treatment is available.
Therefore, opening to “general tourism” under this strategy simply can not be done as it would invalidate the elimination strategy. In Thailand, everything is open including events, nightclubs and bars. Although some measures like mask wearing, hand sanitizers, check in for tracking at some venues and some other measures take place, for the most part life is very much like it was before Covid-19, minus lack of foreign tourists. Music festivals are taking place, nightclub are open and running, protests with thousands are taking place, etc. Thailand does not want to risk having to close and restrict businesses like other countries, even with the hit to tourism, thus for now has kept borders closed and likely will for the near future.
Although Thailand has not officially stated this, they are essentially waiting for better medical treatment, vaccines, faster and more accurate airport testing, the virus slowing down or petering out worldwide or similar results before openly allowing in general tourism. It may and likely will be many, many, many months until one is able to visit the country without quarantine and other measures. Some things will likely stay in place for a long time like required Covid-19 insurance and tests or vaccines down the road.
Now, Thailand IS letting in some tourists, mostly the wealthy from low risk countries (Like China) that have also officially recorded very low cases of Covid-19. As time goes on and more countries hopefully get Covid-19 under control this list will likely expand. Countries named as being likely to get permission to enter under special conditions (which include quarantine) are places like Singapore, Japan, Korea, China, Australia (if they are allowed to travel), New Zealand, Taiwan etc. If you are from a country recording low to zero cases of Covid-19 your chances of getting back soon if you choose to are much more likely than a country like the USA, UK, Brazil or India.
Although in theory anyone that would be willing to pay money and do quarantine and pass the tests should be allowed to enter based on many people’s opinions on our social media comments, in reality they are also limiting countries as they simply don’t have the infrastructure with all the testing and required quarantines and other procedures to allow in more than a few countries and selected tourists at a time right now. They have chosen to focus primarily on China first as, officially speaking, the country has recorded low cases of Covid-19 and also were responsible for the largest amount of tourists in the past several years by far. There is, however, a “new” sixty day tourist visa that although not officially announced more information can be found on further below.
For those of you who want to read more about the process to get in for those who qualify for a special tourist visa (Again, only VERY low risk to no risk countries, mandatory quarantines, fit to fly certificates, financial requirements, multiple Covid-19 tests and chartered flights) you can read our prior article below.
As of mid November, the most updated and newest information around tourist visas is that some (but not all) embassies and consulates around the world have now quietly begun offering a sixty day tourist visa which can be extended once to bring it up to 90 days. This includes countries that have previously been high risk. It is worth noting this has NEVER been officially announced by the Thai Tourism Authority, the Ministry of Pubic Health, The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration or any other official Thai agency in Thailand and the reasons for doing so seem vague. However, embassy staff have confirmed it is real, although seems to be a “quiet option.”
This tourism visa, however, also has strict requirements. This includes everything in the Special Tourism Visa as well as financial requirements which have raised many eyebrows, although may be adjusted in the future and some information says draconian ones like 500,000 baht (Around 15,000 USD) in the bank for six months could be removed “soon”. As of press time, however, the requirements are beyond the average one or two week tourist likely. Keep in mind this visa still requires quarantine, finding a special or semi-charter flight, medical checks, covid tests, visits to embassies, and everything else in the special tourist visa..it is not simply booking and flying in. Importantly, there is also mixed information on if you will be able to legally change your visa to a different one, like retirement or work, in the country.
If you want to find out more on this Tourist Visa, here is our prior article:
Also, here is a good Facebook group from a travel company that, although not official information from the Thai Government and subject to regular change, provides good regular information:
We here at The Pattaya News know this isn’t likely the information people want to hear. Many people are understandably angry and separated from their loved ones and friends. We will update this information on a regular basis. Keep in mind Thailand also is letting in other groups of foreigners, if you qualify, such as those with work permits, children and married in the country. You can contact your local embassy or consulate for more information if you qualify. However, this article is about “general tourism”.
Finally, Here are some more details about other groups that can enter and how: