Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said yesterday (Apr 13) the ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will put forward a proposal for the cancellation at a meeting of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Apr 22.
If approved, the changes are expected to take effect on May 1, meaning tourists would be able to enter the country using vaccine passports instead of having to wait 3-5 days for their documents to be approved, as required by Thailand Pass, he said.
Mr Phiphat said the ministry estimates that at least 10 million tourist arrivals, and B1-1.5 trillion in tourism income, hinges on what travel policies each country formulates at this stage of the pandemic, reports the Bangkok Post.
“Thailand is ready to welcome back foreign visitors as our public health system is adequately equipped,” he said.
“However, there has been concern about the number of domestic deaths caused by COVID-19, while daily caseloads of infections after Songkran will also be taken into account when the government considers further reopening the country to tourists,” Mr Phiphat said.
Restrictions have been gradually eased since November to revitalise the tourism sector.
The government lifted the requirement for a pre-travel RT-PCR test for air travellers arriving in the kingdom under its Test & Go, Sandbox and quarantine programmes from Apr 1.
RT-PCR tests on arrival for foreign visitors are also expected to be replaced by antigen tests from next month.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said more than 100,000 hotel rooms have been booked under the government’s “We Travel Together” hotel subsidy scheme during Songkran.
The fourth phase of the scheme, intended to stimulate domestic travel, will end on May 31 and the government will consider extending it if hotel operators agree.
Under the scheme, participants pay only 60% of normal room rates, with the government responsible for the rest. The subsidy was initially capped at B3,000 per night for up to five consecutive nights in the first stage but has now been stretched to 10 nights.
Mr Yuthasak said more than 450,000 Songkran revellers are expected to take part in activities in Bangkok organised by the TAT and City Hall to mark the five-day festival, with an estimated cash flow of B1.8 billion.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha posted on Facebook that Thailand’s tourism sector will help the country achieve an economic turnaround this year.
Prayut also wrote that film production teams from 33 countries have arrived in Thailand to make more than 196 films since last July, generating income of more than B4.2bn for the country.