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TAT rolls out special hotel and transport packages for foreign tourists

21/11/2020

PHUKET: Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn announced that the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) had already approved TAT’s project to offer foreign tourists special hotel and transportation packages.

Mr Yuthasak explained yesterday (Nov 20) that the project is branded as “Amazing Thailand Plus Special Package” and will offer tourists assistance for booking flights and hotels for quarantine (ASQ) as well as offering special packages for traveling after the quarantine is finished.

According to the announcement by the Public Relations Department of Thailand, there will be three packages, including “book two nights and get one free” for hotels in Bangkok, “book two nights in Bangkok and get a free one in a hotel near the city” (with TAT arranging taxi), and “book three nights in Bangkok and get two nights free in a different province” (with TAT paying for the flight).

The packages will be available for booking by foreign tourists from December 1 this year through March 31 next year. Actual trips can be committed through April 30, 2021.

“TAT will cover the traveling expenses for taxis and airplanes with its own designated budget of about B20 million,” Mr Yuthasak noted.

At the same time Mr Yuthasak announced that CESA had also approved giving Thailand Elite card holders an option to apply for work permits. The applicants must either hold a B1mn card for 10 years or hold a card for 5 years and invest US$1mn in Thailand on specified conditions.

“We set ourselves a goal of selling about 1,000 cards per year,” Mr Yuthasak said.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on November 21, 2020

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Qatar Airways to reinstate flights to Phuket

12/11/2020

PHUKET: Qatar Airways has announced that it will resume two weekly Phuket-Doha flights beginning Dec 4. The airline hopes to increase the service to seven weekly flights from Dec 10, depending on Thai government approval.

Qatar Airways currently operates 14 weekly Bangkok-Doha flights,

Services to the island will be operated by Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, offering 42 flatbed seats in Business Class, and 312 seats in Economy Class, said a release announcing the resumed service.

Flight QR978 will depart Doha at 2:45am and arrive in Phuket at 1:20pm, while return flight QR841 will depart Phuket at 2:10am and arrive in Doha at 5:40am, said the announcement.

“As one of the only global airlines to have maintained a significant schedule throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, Qatar Airways is uniquely positioned to monitor trends in traffic flow and passenger bookings. The airline has scheduled these flights to connect seamlessly via its award-winning hub, Hamad International Airport, where Thai passengers can enjoy more flexible travel options. The airline also continues to show its commitment to Thailand, as it marks its 10 years of operation to Phuket,” the release said.

Jared Lee, Qatar Airways’ Vice President of Sales for South East Asia and South Asia Subcontinent, said, “As part of our network rebuilding efforts in the Asia-Pacific region, we are excited to resume operations to Phuket to further provide global connectivity to our Thai passengers.

“This year also marks our 10th year of operations between Phuket and Doha, and we remain committed to the Thai market as we look forward to rolling out more initiatives for Thailand in the months to come.

“Qatar Airways has proven itself to be a responsible and trusted airline during this crisis with excellent hygiene measures where onboard COVID-19 infection rate is at a negligible 0.012%. Thus, making Qatar Airways a very safe and reliable airline. As global entry restrictions ease, we look forward to reinstating more routes as we aim to operate to over 120 destinations by year-end to better connect Thai passengers to the rest of the world.”

Passengers arriving into Thailand were encouraged to check the latest information via https://www.qatarairways.com/en-th/travel-alerts/travel-to-thailand.html for details before booking, as well as from other sources such as the Royal Thai Embassies or Consulates and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on November 12, 2020

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Thai Airways to launch one-off flight over sacred Buddhist sites

03/11/2020

Thai Airways has announced a special flight on November 30 that will give passengers the opportunity to chant Buddhist mantras while flying over 99 sacred sites in the Kingdom. Wiwat Piyawiroj, executive vice-president at the struggling national carrier, says passengers will fly over Bangkok and 31 provinces, taking in 99 holy sites, over which they will be able to chant Buddhist mantras.

The flight will take off from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport at 1.30pm on November 30, landing back at the airport at 4.30pm. Bookings can be made up until November 25. An economy seat is expected to cost around 6,000 baht. However, if you fancy doing your chanting in more plush surroundings, a business class seat will set you back around 10,000 baht.

According to a Bangkok Post report, the flight is part of the airline’s “Magical Flying Experience” campaign. Wiwat says its aim is to give the tourism sector a boost, in accordance with the government’s policy. It’s not clear how this works however, as passengers will remain in the sky for the duration of the flight.

“There will be no landing during the flight and passengers will receive positive energy from chanting while onboard.”

Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution, Srisuwan Janya, says union members at Thai Airways will today file an official complaint at Government House over the airline’s rehabilitation plan, which they say contains irregularities.

The plan was approved by the Central Bankruptcy Court in September. As part of the plan, nearly 5,000 employees have applied for voluntary resignation. The airline currently employs around 20,000 staff and is fighting for survival, crippled by debts of over 330 billion baht, after years of mismanagement and a culture of corruption. There’s going to be a lot of positive energy required to come back from that.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on November 3, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Empty Emirates plane lands in Phuket, first international flight since lockdown

03/11/2020

An empty Emirates Airlines plane landed at the Phuket International Airport, the first international arrival at the airport since the Covid-19 lockdown was put in place 7 months ago. While no passengers were onboard the aircraft, flight EK376 was welcomed by a “water cannon salute” and landed while PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was visiting the airport, according to a Facebook post by Emirates announcing the landing.

“Today we became the first international airline to touch down in Phuket since its re-opening for international travel. Our special flight to Phuket signals the re-start of tourism in the popular island destination since Thailand re-opened its borders for international travelers.”

The Emirates flight originated from Dubai and landed in Bangkok before flying to Phuket. Another international flight, Qatar Airways flight QR978 from Doha, is expected to arrive in Phuket tomorrow.

Both Emirates and Qatar Airways collaborated with Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to offer the “semi-commercial flights” for business travellers as well as long stay residents.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on November 3, 2020 by Nation Thailand

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Minister declares Phuket Airport ready to welcome STV arrivals

02/11/2020

The Thai Transport Minister has declared Phuket International Airport ready to welcome tourists arriving under the recently-launched Special Tourist Visa scheme. A similar announcement was also made in the days before the much-discussed October 8 STV tourists who never arrived. Now we wait again…

Peppering all these apparent preparations is a visit from the PM and cabinet officials to Phuket. A bit like the cow being artificially inseminated, something is definitely happening but she’s not quite sure what’s going on.

Saksayam Chidchob was at the airport on Saturday as part of checks on preparations for the re-opening of borders to foreign tourists and business people. It’s understood he has instructed Airports of Thailand and other relevant bodies to ensure the screening and processing of international arrivals is “good to go” at Phuket airport, as well as at Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Luang (Chiang Rai), and Hat Yai airports, all under the management of Airports of Thailand.

After observing the health screening checkpoint at Phuket airport, along with the sample-taking and Covid testing procedure, Saksayam has declared the airport ready for international arrivals. It’s hoped that a smooth screening and testing procedure will mean virus control measures can eventually be eased, in order to allow more foreign visitors into the Kingdom. Officials in Phuket have been ordered to ensure airport premises, quarantine facilities and medical supplies and equipment, are sufficient to manage an increase in tourists.

Meanwhile, it’s understood officials at the Phuket Provincial Office, as well as the Harbour Department and other relevant agencies are asking the government to promote marine tourism, such as yacht trips and cruise ships, as one way to get the local economy going again.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on November 2, 2020 by Nation Thailand

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Phuket tops travel destination list of cheapest hotel prices – Dertour 2020 Price Index

30/10/2020

Phuket tops a list of the cheapest travel destinations with a 1 night stay at a hotel costing on average less than $30 USD, according to a study by the German travel company Dertour. Phuket is going through what some say is a “crisis”, certainly a current tourist vacuum. The island province largely relies on income from foreign tourists, but with travel bans over the last 7 months, hotels and other businesses in the tourism industry have been at a loss.

For domestic tourists, Phuket currently offers a serene, peaceful tropical stay where you’ll have a lot of the island to yourself. There are plenty of daily flights to the island, but all from domestic locations at this stage – the international terminal remains closed.

Along with being listed as hotels with the lowest price, Phuket also made the top 5 cities with the largest price drop from 2019 to 2020, according to Dertour’s 2020 Accommodation Price Index. The company studied hotel prices for 75 popular tourist destinations around the world. Bangkok was just above Phuket at the fourth city with the largest hotel price drop. Bangkok hotel prices dropped by 34.6% while Phuket’s hotel prices dropped by 33.8%.

Prices will continue to be low, CEO DER Touristik Central Europe Ingo Burmester says…

“Travel itself will be cheap in 2021… Although it has been a challenging period, we have seen a great deal of interest in domestic travel. We also predict a major catch-up effect for Mediterranean destinations, European trips and long-haul routes in 2021 as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.”

Phuket ranks as the destination with the cheapest accommodation prices at an average price of $29 USD, according to the list. Average prices for 3-star hotels are $26 USD and an average of $54 USD for 5-star hotels.

Bangkok followed, ranking fifth on the list of cities with the lowest hotel price at an average of $43 USD per night. 3-star hotels in Bangkok average at $30 per night and 5-star hotels average at $93 USD.

Top 5 destinations with the lowest price in accommodation

  1. Phuket: Average of $29 USD per night
  2. Delhi: Average of $34 USD per night
  3. Kuala Lumpur: Average of $36 USD per night
  4. Bali: Average of $36 USD per night
  5. Bangkok: Average of $43 USD per night

Top 5 destinations with the largest price drop in accommodation

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  1. Amsterdam: Dropped by 51.6%
  2. San Francisco: Dropped by 39.2%
  3. Vancouver: Dropped by 37.1%
  4. Bangkok: Dropped by 34.6%
  5. Phuket: Dropped by 33.8%

To read Dertour’s full report, click HERE.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on October 30, 2020 by Caitlin Ashworth

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Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

16/10/2020

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on October 16, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Thailand among Top 20 Best Countries in the World in Condé Nast readers’ choice awards

09/10/2020

BANGKOK: The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has revelled in the announcement that Thailand has ranked among the Top 20 Countries in the World by readers of Condé Nast Traveller in the 33rd Readers’ Choice Awards 2020.

Thailand received a score of 92.62, thus placing it in 7th place. Meanwhile, Chiang Mai was placed 2nd on the Top 10 Best Small Cities, and Koh Pha-ngan was rated 3rd on the Top 5 Best Islands in Asia, said a release by the TAT today (Oct 9).

TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said, “We are always proud to see Thailand on this list, but in this challenging year when the COVID-19 restrictions are affecting international travel, it is indeed a very special honour.

“We would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to the readers of Condé Nast Traveller as well as travellers from across the globe for their confidence in Thailand. When all difficulties from the COVID-19 pandemic have improved, Thailand will certainly be more than ready to welcome international tourists once again.”

According to Condé Nast Traveller, the Readers’ Choice Awards 2020 represent the first time that voters made their picks when almost no one was traveling. It said the names in this year’s edition were the ones that brought voters comfort, that they still connected with long afterward and got them through the months without travel, noted the TAT release.

“These are the enduring gems that can withstand the test of time and the vicissitudes of circumstances. So while it is always an honour to be on this list, in this strangest of years, it is a special honour, indeed,” the magazine said, adding that “Many readers have told us that when we emerge from this pandemic, they want to turn their attention to the classics, whether that means personal favourites or places they know have brought joy to others.”

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 9, 2020

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Phuket Airport to see surge in domestic passengers during Vegetarian Festival

09/10/2020

The director of Phuket Airport says at least 15,000 domestic passengers per day are expected during the upcoming Vegetarian Festival. Thani Chuangchu says the event, which runs from October 16 to 25, will see an increase in domestic traffic at the airport, which normally receives around 13,000 domestic travellers per day during holidays and long weekends.

During the week, Phuket airport normally deals with up to 70 domestic flights a day. At weekends and during long holidays, this increases to around 80 flights a day. However, Thani says that during the Vegetarian Festival, the airport is expecting to handle around 90 domestic flights a day.

The Vegetarian Festival is expected to generate around 200 million baht for Phuket’s shattered economy. The province has been devastated by the fall-out from Covid-19, with countless businesses shuttered, some for good, and tourist hotspots, such as Patong and Karon, now resembling ghost towns. Thani says there has been a 60,000 reduction in the number of flights arriving and departing Phuket airport since the start of the pandemic. Compared to the same period last year, this equates to a 48% reduction.

The island is shortly expected to welcome its first group of foreign tourists under the new Special Tourist Visa scheme, when 120 Chinese visitors arrive later this month. Thani says the airport is fully equipped to meet health screening requirements, with mobile testing units, lab facilities, and medical staff all in compliance with both the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

“Phuket airport is 100% ready to welcome local and foreign passengers.”

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on October 9, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Four airports to open for medical tourists

05/10/2020

BANGKOK: The Medical Hub Board is to propose that the government allow direct international flights to quarantine spa and resort locations in facilitation of medical tourists, adding to Special Tourist VISA (STV) visitors being allowed into the country to stimulate its economy, reports state news agency NNT.

The most recent meeting of the board chaired by the Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, invited Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn and other relevant agencies to discuss the proposal, NNT reported yesterday (Oct 3).

The meeting agreed to suggest Samui, Phuket, Chiang Mai and U-Tapao airports as additional direct destinations for medical tourists, after Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports in Bangkok. They are to present the idea to the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), the report noted.

Alternative state quarantine facilities have so far taken on 1,123 foreigners, including their caretakers, generating some B114 million in revenue for the country. Another 2,220 such medical tourists are pending approval, with an estimated over 3,000 expected to enter the country in the near future, the report added.

An online shopping program is to be made available, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, targeting the visitors and they will be recommended destinations to visit after their 14-day quarantine is complete, to further their economic contribution, the report noted.

A sub-committee of the CCSA has already green lit principles for the use of spas, resorts and wellness centers as alternative quarantine locations with the Department of Health Service Promotion, drafting guidelines for the practices.

Phuket is also to be developed as a medical hub for the south, the report said.

Mr Anutin voiced his belief that such plans will help prop up the economy, saying medical tourists and long stay visitors should generate some B360 billion for the country.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 5, 2020 by National News Bureau of Thailand

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