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Thailand opens the door... just a bit

by Asia Pacific Superyachts 17 Sep 2020 08:15 UTC
Phuket Yacht Haven Marina © Phuket Yacht Haven

Phuket, Thailand. On Tuesday 15 September the Cabinet of the Thai Government agreed to permit the arrival of foreign tourists on a new Special Tourist Visa (STV), valid for 90 days and with two 90-day extensions allowed.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced after the Cabinet meeting that the most important condition would be a 14-day quarantine, "Visitors can arrive for tourism or health services, and they can stay at alternative state quarantine facilities, specific areas or at hospitals that function as quarantine facilities," he said, adding, "Our public health system is amongst the best in the world and people can have confidence in it."

Asia Pacific Superyachts has suggested to the relevant authorities that yacht owners be allowed to do the 14-day mandatory quarantine on board their yacht, reports APS co-founder, Gordon Fernandes, from his offices in Phuket, Thailand.

Fernandes is working with others in seeking permission from the Government to ensure the new Special Tourist Visa (STV) can also be used for yacht crews visiting Thailand, noting that Phuket marinas are enthusiastically welcoming the reopening.

“Marinas are playing an increasingly important role globally and in South East Asia. Phuket marinas can handle all the needs of a superyacht and berths are available for yachts up to 130m in length at any one of Phuket’s many fully equipped marinas”. He added, “There is a growing superyacht labour force, with excellent docking facilities. Over the past 15 years (and prior to Covid-19) approximately 1,500 yachts and cruisers visited the ‘Pearl of the Andaman’ annually. “On the eastern side of the country, the Gulf of Thailand and Koh Samui have also been seeing more superyachts visit each year, and now we want to help to start bringing them back”, adds Captain Charlie Dwyer, a co-founder of Asia Pacific Superyachts, and based on Koh Samui.

Deputy Government Spokeswoman Traisulee Traisaranakul said of the SVT plan, "The target is to welcome 100-300 visitors a week, or up to 1,200 people a month, and generate income of about 1 billion baht a month." Long-stay visitors could begin arriving next month, Ms Traisulee said. Long-stay visitors will have to present proof of payment for their long stay in the country. This could be payment for a hotel reservation, or the lease of a condominium room.

Although the tourism industry is delighted with the first step of reopening the country to international tourists, operators are prepared to see slow demand in the beginning because a 14-day quarantine is mandatory for those applying for an STV, said Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, President of the Tourism Council of Thailand.

It is to be hoped that yachts and superyachts wanting to visit Phuket (and other parts of Thailand) will be among visitors able to use the new STV. However, this is still to be confirmed by the Government.

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