Bangkok (AFP) – Travelers to Thailand no longer need to take a Covid-19 test before boarding the plane, according to plans announced Friday as part of efforts to restart the kingdom’s pandemic-hit tourism sector.
From April 1, the requirement to take a negative test within 72 hours of travel will be scrapped, and instead, visitors will be tested on arrival in Thailand, said Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman for the country’s Covid-19 task force.
Draconian travel restrictions helped Thailand limit the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the early stages of the pandemic, but hammered on its crucial tourism industry, which accounts for about a fifth of the country’s economy.
Thailand is currently registering about 25,000 new cases of Covid a day as the Omicron variant spreads around the country, but officials hope this will drag out in time for them to move to a “post-pandemic” phase from July .
In an effort to recover from its worst economic performance since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Thailand has gradually eased travel restrictions over the past nine months.
But hotels, restaurants and other tourist-dependent businesses have urged the government to go further and faster to lure visitors back to the kingdom’s beaches and resorts.
The tourism industry estimates that around five million foreign visitors will travel to Thailand in 2022 – down from almost 40 million the year before the pandemic.
© 2022 AFP