Thailand is now unlikely to see any international visitors until late October (photo courtesy Unsplash).
After much fanfare and anticipation, Thailand has now delayed its long-stay international tourist visa programme just two days before it was due to launch.
Visitors from Southern China were due to fly to Phuket this week as part of a campaign to reopen the country to overseas travellers.
However, Thai media is now reporting that the scheme has been delayed indefinitely.
A tourism agency spokesperson confirmed on October 7 that the 300-plus Chinese guests and businesspeople who were due to arrive on October 8 travelling on the ‘Special Tourist Visa’ would no longer be able to do so.
Officials blamed the delay on insufficient preparation. It is believed that the visa would be reimplemented later this month.
“The batch of tourists expected for tomorrow can’t come because we haven’t worked out all the details to receive them,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism and Sport.
The special visa was approved in September following an international lockdown that began in March. The special long-stay visa would enable tourists to stay in Thailand for up to 270 days, which would include a 14-day quarantine on arrival.
Because the visa has been delayed rather than cancelled, no refunds are being offered, including flights, accommodation, insurance and visa fees.