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


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


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


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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Tourism Minister confirms more inbound flights of tourists


PHUKET: Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has announced that a second flight of tourists to arrive in Thailand under the new Special Tourist Visa (STV) will land in Bangkok on Oct 26, followed by a third flight arriving from Europe on Nov 1.

Speaking to the press in Bangkok yesterday (Oct 1), Minister Phiphat confirmed that a group of 150 Chinese nationals, all entering the country on the new Special Tourist Visa (STV), will be the first foreign tourists allowed into Thailand on a chartered flight under the conditional entry scheme for selected groups of foreigners, endorsed by the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Mr Phiphat explained the group will fly directly to Phuket on a chartered Air Asia flight, adding that another, smaller, group of seven Chinese businessmen will arrive at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on a private jet on the same day, reports state news agency NNT.

Another group of 126 Chinese tourists, from Guangdong will fly to Suvarnabhumi airport on a chartered Thai Smile flight on Oct 25, he said.

A third group, of 120 tourists from Scandinavia and Schengen countries, will arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport on a Thai Airways International flight on Nov 1, he added.

Regarding alternative local state quarantine (ALSQ) facilities to accommodate the tourists, Mr Phiphat said three hotels in Phuket and one each in Chon Buri and the northeastern province of Buriram had been chosen.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 2, 2020

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Thai Airways to provide flights to some international destinations this month


Thai Airways, the beleaguered national carrier currently undergoing a “rehabilitation” process (code for bankruptcy and restructure proceedings), says it’s laying on a number of special flights to destinations outside the Kingdom this month. Nation Thailand reports that the airline is introducing flights to Hong Kong, Taipei, London, Copenhagen and Stockholm. Executive Vice President Wiwat Piyawiroj says the flights are being provided to help those who need to travel to those destinations.

Thai Airways is already under fire for not refunding, or long delays in refunding, tickets sold before the grounding of the airline, for dates after the closure of the Thai borders.

The details of the new routes can be found below. All times are local…

Bangkok – Hong Kong
October 21: Departing Bangkok at 1.55pm, arriving Hong Kong 5.40pm
October 28: Departing Bangkok at 2.00pm, arriving Hong Kong at 5.45pm

Bangkok – Taipei
October 8, 16, 23: Departing Bangkok at 8.25am, arriving Taipei 1.05pm
October 30: Departing Bangkok at 8.15am, arriving Taipei at 12.45am

Bangkok – London
October 4, 11, and 18: Departing Bangkok at 12.50am, arriving London at 7.10pm
October 25: Departing Bangkok at 1.20pm, arriving London 7.35pm

Bangkok – Copenhagen
October 4, 11, and 18: Departing Bangkok at 6.50am, arriving Copenhagen at 1.05pm
October 25: Departing Bangkok at 6.50pm, arriving Copenhagen 12.35am

Bangkok – Stockholm
October 14: Departing Bangkok at 7.05am, arriving Stockholm at 1.10pm

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on October 1, 2020 by Nation Thailand

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months


The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn  university cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on September 30, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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More flights for Vegetarian Festival, says Phuket TAT


PHUKET: The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket office is coordinating with local airlines to provide more flights to Phuket during the coming Vegetarian Festival from Oct 17-25, with the hope of boosting the number of tourists coming to the island.

More flights will be provided from Don Mueang International Airport and Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, TAT Phuket Director of Napasorn Kakai announced yesterday (Sept 27).

The TAT Phuket office had already met with the Phuket Tourist Association (PTA), the Phuket Chamber of Commerce (PCC)and airline operators to together set up tour packages specifically for the festival, including special round-fight ticket prices and nine shrine tours, she said.

“We will invite famous actors and influencers to join before, during, and after the festival, in order to attract more Thais to Phuket,” Ms Napasorn said.

Additionally, the TAT Phuket office will post festival flags along Thepkrasattri Rd in order to create a festive feeling and atmosphere on the island, she added.

“At this stage, many Thai tourists have come to Phuket, especially during weekends and the government’s special holidays,” Ms Napasorn said.

“We have to thank all Thai tourists for traveling to the island, as well as popular social media pages for publicizing and promoting Phuket tourism through impressive stories,” she added.

Ms Napasorn pointed out that while tourism to Phuket generated an estimated B470 billion for the province last year, so far tourism had provided about B100bn.

Highlighting the island’s dependence on forign tourism, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew last week noted that 66.8% of all tourism businesses on the island were still “closed temporarily”. Of those, an estimated 2.8% had already shut their doors permanently.

While the ban on foreign tourists as a COVID-19 preventative measure continues, the number of businesses expected to close was only expected to rise, Governor Narong said.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on September 28, 2020 by Tanyaluk Sakoot

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Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs


Phuket Airport is officially ready for tourists as authorities say they have finished installing Covid screening labs in an effort to welcome international travellers. The 5T Model for Covid-19 is being used at the airport with the goal of screening large groups of people in a quick and efficient manner. The Phuket health chief says the 5T’s stand for Target, Testing, Treating, Trusting and Tracing.

Phuket has one large airport at the north end of the island but is separated into two separate terminals – a domestic terminal (the original airport terminal), and a new international terminal opened in 2016.

The target category refers to the target groups of tourists while the tracing stands for software that will be used to monitor their movements. The testing category refers to Covid tests that will be implemented to travellers upon arrival along with the treatment and trust categories signifying the readiness of resources for medical treatment and confident communications between all parties respectively.

The Covid-19 lab container module has been set up at Phuket airport’s Terminal X (the terminal opened for charter flights opened in 2014) and will be tested tomorrow with its operation to start on September 30. As large groups of tourists could arrive (later in the year, the lab is reportedly capable of testing 96 people at a time with test results becoming available in 6 hours. What the airport would do withe tested passengers whilst waiting for 6 hours, has not been detailed at this stage.

Such a readiness plan to welcome foreign tourists originally singled out Phuket due to its popularity with travellers, and as a so-called guinea pig model to test in a controlled environment (Phuket is an island joined to the Thai mainland by a single 300 metre road bridge). Once dubbed the “Phuket Model”, authorities have proposed to rename the plan to “Special Tourist Visa” due to the confusion and opposition it reportedly caused. The scheme is reportedly now being proposed for all areas of Thailand but only allowing foreigners from specific countries.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on September 27, 2020 by Pattaya Mail

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Special Tourist Visa to visit Thailand approved Monday


The much-debated Special Tourist Visa is set to be approved tomorrow during a meeting chaired by PM Prayut with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The approval comes as government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul says the country expects around 1,200 tourists per month to come in on the new category of visa after the country reopens, but the visa is not without restrictions.

Each traveller has to take a Covid-19 test 72 hours prior to departing on a charter or private flight to Thailand, which must gain approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or CCSA before flying to Thailand. The charter flights have their own list of restrictions and will not be allowed to sell anything on board, and have been told to adhere to the strict guidelines from the CCSA

Tourists will also have to sign a letter agreeing to the government’s Covid measures which include a mandatory 14 day quarnntine in an approved accommodation and carry proof of Covid health insurance covering $US 100,000 or 3 million baht. After arriving, the travellers must submit to another Covid test and download an app to monitor their health.

So far, Phuket airport has reportedly finished installing Covid labsto prepare for the incoming tourists, with more airports expected to follow. In one year, Traisuree says the number of travellers arriving on the special visa is expected to reach 14,400 people, generating about 12.4 billion baht in revenue.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on September 27, 2020 by The Phuket News

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Businesses in Phuket are gearing up to receive tourists amid ‘Travel Bubble’ discussions


To redress the financial impacts of COVID-19, the Thai Government has been in talks with a handful of low-risk countries around the world over setting up ‘travel bubbles’ to rebuild its economy, which would allow passengers from those select countries to travel to Phuket and other parts of Thailand as tourists.

While the local government has not made any official announcements on when the ‘travel bubble’ agreements will be in effect, many businesses in Phuket, an island whose economy is heavily reliant on tourism, are gearing up to welcome tourists.

The Best Western Plus The Beachfront Hotel in Phuket, developed by one of the leading real estate developers in Thailand, Blue Horizon Developments, is one such business that has been taking strict measures to increase travelers’ safety.

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers around the world are not just demanding safety, but they have come to expect it like a basic right, as they should,” says Claude Baltes, the hotel’s General Manager.

“At Best Western Plus The Beachfront Hotel, we have always practiced high standards of hygiene and cleanliness, and we have now taken our commitment to travelers’ safety up a notch.”

Best Western Plus The Beachfront Hotel has recently received the COVID-READY Certificate by Hotel Resilient, the world’s only scientific benchmarking and certification body for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation of hotels and resorts. The certification is based on the verification of key documents and is awarded to hotels and resorts that pass with a promising score of 80% or above.

“After being certified COVID-READY, we now have peace of mind knowing that our hard work and efforts have essentially been a step in the right direction,” said Baltes. “We are confident that we can provide the high level of safety our guests deserve.”

Best Western Plus The Beachfront Hotel has also been actively engaged in community activities. Baltes organised a donation drive and received generous donations from private donors in Luxembourg. Using the funds raised, the hotel recently carried out its fourth distribution of 200 dry food bags, which consisted of rice, cooking oil, salted eggs, and Chinese sausages among other necessities, to the needy in Rawai.

In addition, the hotel’s different teams clean the beaches around Phuket together with Blue Horizon Development’s staff members and have removed a few hundred kilos of trash so far.

“We want to present Phuket in all its glory to travelers,” says Baltes.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on September 13, 2020 by Ad

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