Athletes, travelers and hoteliers can brace themselves for more restrictions to hit the US after the World Cup, with Thailand’s foreign ministry saying it will ban all international flights from the country and impose visa bans on anyone caught using the country as a base of operations for criminal activity.
Thailand’s Foreign Ministry said it would impose visa restrictions on people who have been in the country for five years or more and restrict international travel from the islands of Phuket and Koh Tao, the two most populous islands in the South China Sea, which have been the scene of tensions in the region.
The ministry said it has ordered its armed forces to take “all measures” to “ensure the security of the country”, but did not specify how those measures would be carried out.
It said the ban on flights would apply to all international and domestic flights from Thailand’s three main airports, including those for the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong, but not to the country’s international airports.
The ban on all international air travel from Thailand will apply to international flights originating in the three airports, except those originating from Thailand, the ministry said.
Thai media said the country had received an invitation from the US State Department to hold talks on the visa restrictions, which will likely take place in Washington in the coming days.US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the US to meet with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday and hold talks with Thais in Washington, where he will also meet with the White House and the Defence Department, Thai media reported.
The White House said it was aware of the developments, but did NOT know the details.
“The President will meet with Prime Minister Chan-ozhay on Monday to discuss visa policy,” a statement said.
“We remain committed to working with the United Kingdom and Thailand on a comprehensive visa reform package, which includes visas for all foreign workers.”US travel restrictions would likely come into effect within days, with the State Department announcing the first round of visas for foreigners arriving from Thailand and the United Arab Emirates, both of which are also affected by visa restrictions.
The restrictions will be extended to the other two countries on Monday, when they will be lifted, the State department said.
The US, which hosts the World Cups and the Olympics each year, will take a further 90 days to implement the measures, which could take up to a year to implement.
The State Department said the US would “provide further clarity” on the measures when they come into force.
“This decision is not a blanket ban on travel,” a State Department official told Reuters.
“There are specific travel restrictions for those countries with which we have been cooperating, and we are providing additional clarity about what those restrictions will look like as they become effective,” the official said.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the restrictions would be “crucial” to help resolve the crisis in the Middle East.
“What we need to do is work together with the countries of the region to find solutions to the problems of this region,” Bishop told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“To find a peaceful solution to this, to end the bloodshed in Syria and Iraq and to bring stability to the region.”
Australia will be among the first countries to implement visa restrictions in the wake of the restrictions, while the United Nations and the European Union are also expected to impose visa limits on some countries.
“Australia is a close ally of the United states, we are deeply concerned about the security situation in Syria,” Bishop said.