In an abrupt u-turn which nulifies the policy announced at the weekend, health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reports today that all visitors would now be allowed entry into the country, whether they had received the vaccine or not.
He further explained that, following a meeting with experts earlier today, it was agreed that proof of vaccination was considered a general inconvenience, adding that there was sufficient immunisation globally to allow the policy shift.
Anutin’s u-turn announcement came after the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) issued a list confirming which vaccines were to be recognised by the Royal Thai Government under the reinstituted COVID-19 measures on Saturday, which came into effect yesterday.
This was in response to China opening its borders and removing travel restrictions for incoming and outgoing travel.
Thailand anticipaties 300,000 visitors from China in the first quarter, despite China experiencing its worst outbreak of the virus since it was first detected in Wuhan in late 2019 and a widespread acknowledgement of the ineffectivness of China produced and administered vaccines.
This was followed yesterday by key tourism figures for Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi and Koh Samui uniting in their call for the government to revise its decision to enforce a “vaccinated only” policy for all international arrivals entering the country.
A Xiamen Airlines flight landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok this morning and its passengers were greeted by Anutin in person. It was the first flight carrying Chinese visitors since early 2020 when the pandemic began. It is expected that a further 3,465 passengers are expected to arrive today.
Anutin said Thailand is expecting to welcome between 7-10 million Chinese visitors this year, way above the original earlier projection of 5mn.