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Travel rules eased if caseload decreases

BANGKOK: The Test & Go scheme and Thailand Pass registration are expected to be scrapped by June 1 if there is no surge in infections or fatalities during the Songkran festival in April, says the Tourism and Sports Ministry.

CoronavirusCOVID-19healthtourism
By Bangkok Post

Friday 25 March 2022, 08:59AM


International passengers check in for their flights at Suvarnabhumi airport. Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul / Bangkok Post

International passengers check in for their flights at Suvarnabhumi airport. Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul / Bangkok Post

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said Thai tourism has to move forward after opening the Phuket sandbox in July 2021, reports the Bangkok Post.

“Thailand started like a rabbit, running quickly last year as we reopened to visitors. We cannot let the country fall behind as many nations are opening borders and have fewer restrictions than us,” Mr Phiphat said.

The government and tourism agencies have to work together to propose further loosening of travel restrictions, allowing more tourists into the country, with a target of 7 million arrivals this year, he said.

The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) recently dropped the 72-hour pre-travel RT-PCR test for international arrivals starting from Apr 1.

The next phase of reopening is expected to take place on May 1, with the RT-PCR test on arrival to be replaced with an antigen test kit (ATK) check conducted by a medical professional.

Mr Phiphat said the upcoming Songkran holidays will be a critical test for further easing of rules. The number of daily cases, including results from ATK tests in April, has to remain stable. An acceptable rate might be 50,000-60,000 cases, while the fatality rate should stay below 100, he said.

The ministry plans to submit an additional proposal in May to the CCSA after monitoring the situation in April, said Mr Phiphat.

Internal - Phuket Live Radio 89.5

The viral caseload in April could lead to the cancellation of the Test & Go scheme and Thailand Pass from June 1, he said.

Mr Phiphat said if the country fully reopens and returns to pre-pandemic norms, there would be no need to require RT-PCR test results from tourists. However, an ATK test should be administered the arrival day to maintain confidence locally and prevent uncertainty, he said.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Association of Thai Travel Agents yesterday (Mar 24), Mr Phiphat said the ministry’s proposal regarding an end to COVID testing from June 1 still requires approval from the Public Health Ministry based on the caseload.

The ministry previously forecast 10mn arrivals this year, but with the Omicron surge and the Ukraine-Russian conflict, the tally might only reach 7mn, he said.

Tourism revenue could reach 30% of levels recorded in 2019 this year, before improving to 50% next year and fully recovering by 2024, said Mr Phiphat.

He said the country needs to improve its ranking in the safety index. Thailand ranked poorly at 111 out of 140 countries in the 2019 Tourism Competitiveness Index, said Mr Phiphat.

Thailand aims to rise to 100 in the next index, he said.

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solar_serfer | 25 March 2022 - 16:41:38

the comment by Kurt IMHO nailed it

Ash Ward | 25 March 2022 - 14:06:34

There is no official  understand of tourists. The Thai goverment  just think of money. No forward planing or common sense. Unbelievable!

Kurt | 25 March 2022 - 12:54:05

'Expected, expected'! I ventilated here earlier that if Thailand wants to welcome foreign tourists in July/August they have to publish NOW  that Thailand Pass + Test & Go is over per July 1! Cut in stone! Otherwise, forget tourism. Foreigners don't trust Thai éxpecting' blabla. All the time it is misleading/deceptioning. Is there really no Official understanding foreign touris...

CaptainJack69 | 25 March 2022 - 12:13:43

June? Too late, it's already too late. Songkran's coming up and that marks the end of the tourist season for the bulk of Thai destinations. And now they're using Songkran infections as a metric when they've just announced that Songkran is effectively cancelled? Enough. Everyone is vaccinated and Omicron is harmless. COVID is finished, can we PLEASE get on with our lives?

 

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