Thailand is relaxing its entry rules just a little more for tourists. In December, the Kingdom announced the launch of new “Amazing Thailand Plus” packages, hand-in-hand with newly-relaxed entry limitations for tourists.
These changes couldn’t come at a more urgent time for Thailand, as its cash cow is sorely missed. In the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, the country raked in some $101 billion in tourism revenue, or around 18 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product—a figure that dropped to zero in the first quarter of 2020.
The new promotions might help restart Thailand’s economy, or at least keep it stumbling along till the pandemic clears up post-vaccine. Officials only expect the country to open up in earnest by March 2021 at the earliest.
Amazing Thailand Plus Packages
The “Amazing Thailand Plus” promotion combines visits to tourist attractions, accommodation, and transportation, as well as two-week stays at government-accredited Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) hotels for the required two-week quarantine.
Amazing Thailand Plus guests must choose from one of three different packages.
- “Package A: Bangkok Extra” includes a half- or full-day tour of Bangkok or nearby cities Nakhon Pathom or Ayutthaya;
- “Package B: Bangkok and Beyond” includes a car transfer to the following cities: Cha-Am, Hua Hin, Chon Buri, Khao Yai, or Rayong;
- “Package C: Bangkok and Beyond” includes round-trip flights (or discounted flights) to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Krabi, Phuket, or Ko Samui.
Bookings must be made between December 2020 and March 2021, with travel periods from December 2020 to April 2021. Amazing Thailand Plus trips can be arranged through Thai Airways International’s site.
Relaxed Restrictions on Special Tourist Visas
You’ll need to apply for a Thai visa to go on these trips, and here you’re in luck, too.
Special Tourist Visas (STVs) for foreigners, formerly limited to COVID-19 low-risk countries, have been expanded in scope to cover all countries regardless of their COVID-19 status.
This does not excuse tourists from undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine, but tourism advocates hope the rules improve uptake of the STV, which has so far received an underwhelming response (before the policy change, only 825 people had applied for the visa.)
Should You Still Be Worried?
Of all the countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand should cause the least worry for travelers, as the Kingdom has kept its COVID-19 status well in hand for the past few months. Screening systems at Thailand’s entry points were set up early in the pandemic, and the Kingdom has since established a highly effective quarantine system.
It’s the illegal points of entry that has Thailand’s authorities sweating. Border cities like Chiang Mai have been affected by COVID-positive border crossers, who skip the crossings and the normal checks for the disease.
Seventeen new cases of COVID-19 were reported on December 13 by Thailand’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA). All were either foreigners or Thais crossing the border, including four Thai women returning from Myanmar.
While the effortless travel status quo from 2019 won’t be with us till the middle of 2021, Thailand’s long-term visas and new travel packages stand as promises that visiting Thailand is safer than ever, assuming you’re OK with spending your first two weeks in Thailand waiting for a COVID-19 all-clear.
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Thai Airways International. "Package A : Bangkok Extra." December 2020.
Thai Airways International. "Package B : Bangkok and Beyond Drive-In." December 2020.
Thai Airways International. "Package C : Bangkok and Beyond Fly-In." December 2020.
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