Bangkok (AFP) – Thailand on Friday announced the end of the mandatory Covid-19 tests for vaccinated travelers as the country escalates efforts to revive its pandemic tourism industry.
Strict border restrictions helped the kingdom curb infections and deaths by 2020, but brought the tourism sector – which had accounted for about a fifth of the country’s economy – to its knees.
Thailand’s Covid-19 task force said that from May 1, fully vaccinated visitors would no longer have to take a test on arrival and wait in a hotel room for the result.
Task Force spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin said authorities will now only require arrivals to show proof of vaccination and health insurance coverage of at least $ 10,000.
“This will drive the economic (recovery) momentum as we are a country that is pretty much dependent on tourism,” said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha.
Unvaccinated travelers must either show a negative test result taken within 72 hours of departure to Thailand or undergo a five-day hotel quarantine and a test.
Earlier this month, Thailand dropped the requirement for mandatory Covid tests before arrival.
Hotels, resorts and tour operators have long pushed for hassle-free entry rules in an attempt to lure more foreign tourists.
The kingdom is facing an uphill battle to recover from its worst economic results since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Experts estimate that around five million international visitors will come to Thailand this year, a drop from nearly 40 million in 2019.
The country has a seven-day average of about 20,000 new daily infections, and the daily death rate has been above 100 for nearly fourteen days.
Out of about 260,000 foreign tourists arriving under the Test and Go scheme, only 1,195 (0.46 percent) tested positive for the virus in April, according to government data.
© 2022 AFP