The Thai Tourist and Sports Ministry certainly can’t be accused of indolence as it continues to come up with solutions to the collapse of international tourism whilst safeguarding public health. The latest idea is to encourage golfers to visit Thailand without the usual solitary quarantine, but they would be based in a hotel near the links and not allowed to leave the golf complex for the first 14 days (or 10 if the government actually reduces the compulsory period).
The ministry has calculated that there are 238 golf courses nationwide with 5,000 rooms available, but authorities at each venue will need to decide whether to request participation, assuming the idea is given the green light by the all-important Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. However, golfers must come from countries with a track record of combatting Covid-19 as good as Thailand’s. Or nearly as good. Likely countries are China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. Brits, Americans and most Europeans can leave their clubs in the cupboard.
Meanwhile, the ministry is discussing with the Chinese government the prospect of a no-quarantine, travel bubble deal for citizens coming from Chinese provinces which have not had a community-transmitted infection for at least 150 days. There are believed to be 22 provinces in that favoured category with a total population of 800 million. Any such deal, possibly coinciding with Chinese New Year early in 2021, would need to be signed off at the highest level in both countries.
The prospect for wannabe visitors from countries experiencing a surge in infections remains poor. The newly-promoted Special Tourist Visa is not available there and embassies are not allowed to issue tourist visas. They must apply to the local embassy for a non-immigrant visa under one of ten categories such as work permit holders, those married to Thai citizens and those with substantial funds. There is a very good explanation of all permitted categories on the Thai embassy in London website.