Thailand’s consulate in Hong Kong has launched a visa programme that will allow residents from the city and Macao to stay in the country for up to nine months, though a mandatory 14-day quarantine means the offer is unlikely to move the dial on travel, a tourism sector lawmaker has said.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand in Hong Kong revealed on Wednesday that permanent residents of the two cities could apply for a stay of as long as 270 days in the Southeast Asian country, provided they agreed to a hefty health insurance purchase – one that covers Covid-19 treatment – and a two-week hotel quarantine.
Those applying for the special travel visa must also provide proof of fully paid accommodation at a hotel, or prove they own a residential property, or have paid no less than 25% of the purchase price, according to the Thai consulate’s website.
A spokeswoman from the Royal Thai consulate general said the HK$600 (US$77) special tourist visa was aimed at long-stay travellers who needed to fly to the country to handle family, business or property matters, though opening it up for leisure travel would also be considered.
The consulate has arranged three special Thai Airways flights for travellers with the new visa for October 21, November 4 and November 18.
But tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said he expected relatively few Hong Kong residents would travel on the visa, as the application threshold was very high.
Applicants for the special tourist visas are required to provide a bank statement showing at least 500,000 baht (US$16,000) on deposit in the past six months, according to the consulate.
Those wishing to apply also have to purchase both outpatient and hospital insurance from a Thailand-based provider with coverage of 40,000 baht and 400,000 baht, respectively. International health insurance that provides a minimum coverage of US$100,000 and includes Covid-19 treatment is also required.
“The barriers to travel are very high, as applicants for the visa have to fork out a considerable amount of money just to make the trip to Thailand,” Yiu added.
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