As Thailand continues to relax travel restrictions and welcome back an increasing number of international tourists, airlines are responding with new flights to meet demand. Qatar Airways has just announced it will increase flight frequency between Phuket and their base in Doha, with more flights expected to be announced soon.
Qatar Airways is expected to officially begin weekly flight operations connecting Doha and Phuket from 4 December 2020 and is currently seeking permission from the Thai authorities to expand the frequency of this service still further from 10 December onwards. With the new services, Qatar becomes the second airline from the Middle East to resume flights to Thailand after the Emirates, which services the Dubai-Phuket route.
Thailand recently opened its borders to international arrivals under two new visas, each with stringent entry requirements; approval for travel is subject to passing a range of safety checks, documentation and protocols. Phuket, together with Bangkok, is one of the main entry points for these arrivals.
The new 60-day Tourist Visa is available to citizens of all nations. In order for a new visa to be approved, applicants must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR swab test, taken within 72 hours of flight departure. All arrivals under the new visa must also undergo a second Covid-19 PCR test upon arrival, to be absolutely certain they are free of the virus before entering Thailand.
The new Tourist Visa follows the successful reintroduction of international tourism to Thailand in October, under the Special Tourism Visa (STV) – a long-stay visa for citizens of designated low-risk countries. The STV is valid for an initial 90 days but can be extended multiple times.
Qatar Airways has been servicing the increasing number of arrivals to Thailand in recent weeks; the airline currently flies twice daily between Doha and Bangkok, transporting returning Thai nationals, people authorised to visit Thailand and those with work permits. The inclusion of a Doha-Phuket service is expected to be the first in a range of further expansions by the airline in Thailand in the weeks and months ahead.