According to the Phuket Immigration office based at the airport, 5,924 foreign arrivals entered the country through Phuket airport yesterday ‒ the most in a single day since the tourism shutdown began in 2020.
Neither the Phuket Sandbox nor the Test & Go entry schemes ever resulted in the number of international arrivals at Phuket airport in a day exceeding 5,000.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) issued a release yesterday highlighting the potential impact of the rollback of the COVID-19 measures and the extended periods of stay now granted to tourists arriving on selected short-stay visas primarily used by tourists to enter the country.
“As of today [Oct 1] international travellers to Thailand will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination or ATK test results, and a longer length of stay will be on offer, signalling the completion of the kingdom’s full reopening to international tourism,” said the release.
“Effective from today through until 31 March, 2023, the period of stay in Thailand will be extended to 45 days (from 30 days) for tourists from countries/territories entitled for visa exemption, and to 30 days (from 15 days) for those eligible for a Visa on Arrival (VOA),” the release added.
TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said, “Thailand has fully reopened to the world’s tourists with the message, through the ‘Visit Thailand Year 2022-2023: Amazing New Chapters’ campaign, that our fascinating destination offers something for everyone under the ‘From A-Z: Amazing Thailand Has It All’ concept.
“We invite tourists to come and experience the existing and new tourism offerings in Thailand which, together with the kingdom’s increasing move towards sustainable and responsible tourism, will make for a truly memorable holiday,” he added.
The TAT release also self-praised the Thai government’s efforts to reopen the country to tourism as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded.
“Thailand began a carefully planned gradual reopening to international tourism from 1 July, 2021, with the Phuket Sandbox, Samui Plus, and 7+7 Extension programmes. This was followed by a four-phase reopening timeline from October 2021 to January 2022 in which destinations throughout the country reopened to tourists. On 1 July, 2022, came the removal of the Thailand Pass registration scheme, and foreign nationals as of then only had to show proof of vaccination or a negative ATK test result within 72 hours of travel.
“Now, with the kingdom fully reopened, international visitor arrivals are on the rise, international events and local festivals are being held, and major international and regional airlines are resuming flights from countries around the world,” the release noted.
Thai Airways International (THAI) in its recently announced 2022-2023 winter schedule (Oct 30, 2022 – Mar 25, 2023) is operating flights on 34 European, Australian, and Asian routes with increased frequencies on selected routes, the release added.
The THAI winter schedule includes daily flights between Bangkok and London, Paris, Zurich, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, Manila, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Mumbai, Dhaka, and Karachi.
“On the event scene, as the host of APEC 2022, a number of APEC meetings are taking place in Thailand, most recently the SME Ministerial Meeting (SMM), from 5-10 September, 2022, in Phuket. The 11th APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting and the 60th APEC Tourism Working Group Meeting took place from 14-20 August, 2022, in Bangkok. Next, the APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) is scheduled from 19-21 October, 2022, and the high-profile APEC Economic Leaders’ Week (AELW) is from 14-19 November, 2022,” said the TAT release.
“The OR Thailand Grand Prix 2022 – the third edition in Thailand of this MotoGP world championship motorcycle racing event – is on this weekend from 30 September-2 October, 2022, at the Chang International Circuit in Buri Ram province; the immensely popular Vegetarian Festival is taking place from 24 September to 5 October, 2022, in different locations throughout the country; and the Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB 2022) will be held from 22 October, 2022, to 23 February, 2023, at various locations across Bangkok featuring works by 73 local and international artists,” it added.
Not noted in the TAT release but announced by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) yesterday was that world-famous Maya Bay had now reopened to visits by tourists.
The reopening, effective Oct 1, followed the bay being closed during the usual shutdown during the southwest monsoon season (May-Oct).
The number of visitors allowed to access the bay remains limited, as it was before the seasonal closure.
The notice announcing the reopening also reminded people that preservation of the natural beauty of the area was a top priority. Tourists are still not allowed play in the water at the conservation-protected bay.
“The resumption of flights to Thailand from all over the world, together with the return to pre-pandemic entry requirements, and the extension of stay periods for tourists, have all come in time for the kingdom’s high season which runs from October to March,” the TAT release noted.
“As one of the world’s favourite holiday destinations, Thailand is pleased to be welcoming tourists back. While they can once again enjoy a fun, fascinating and rewarding holiday, they are asked to please remain vigilant and to continue to abide by health and safety standards,” the release concluded.
THAI CHANA CANCELLED
The requirement for all people, including tourists, to use Thai Chana, the Thai government COVID-19 tracking app, has been cancelled following an order issued by the Ministry of Public Health.
The announcement was made by the Department of Disease Control under the Ministry of Public Health late yesterday, with the news relayed by the Phuket Info Center, operated by the Phuket Governor’s Office.
According to a report by the national Government House news, Ratchada Thanadirek, Deputy Spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office, explained that cancellation of the Thai Chana requirement was part of the rolling back of nearly all COVID-19 requirements in the country
“All data in the system will be destroyed. according to information security standards while the Department of Consular Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will cancel the review of documents related to COVID-19, such as vaccination certificates. and test results for COVID-19 for travelers entering Thailand,” Ms Ratchada said.
“Currently, COVID-19 has been reduced [in classification] to a communicable disease requiring surveillance. However, the government continues to closely monitor the spread of the virus,” she said.
“Booster vaccinations are still necessary because it greatly reduces the risk of severe symptoms, especially in the elderly. Therefore, I would like people to receive complete vaccination,” Ms Ratchada continued.
"Also, maintaining social distance and wearing a mask when in crowded places is still important to prevent infection,” she added.
While the requirement to wear face masks has been lifted in general, face masks must still be worn on public transport and in cinemas, and any other areas where large groups of people are in close proximity with each other.
DAILY REPORTS CANCELLED
Meanwhile, the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO) last night also confirmed that with COVID-19 now reclassified as a communicable disease, in accordance with instructions from the Ministry of Public Health, the PPHO will no longer be issuing its daily report of new COVID-19 infections on the island.
The last report by the PPHO marked seven infections confirmed by RT-PCR tests and a further 64 infections confirmed by antigen test kits (ATKs) on Friday (Sept 30).