Thailand drops on-arrival Covid-19 tests for vaccinated visitors

By AFP   April 22, 2022 | 04:40 pm PT
Thailand drops on-arrival Covid-19 tests for vaccinated visitors
A passenger has her information checked on arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Feb 1, 2022. Photo by AFP
Thailand on Friday announced the end of compulsory Covid-19 tests for vaccinated travelers, as the country steps up efforts to revive its pandemic-thumped tourism industry.

Tight border restrictions helped the kingdom limit infections and deaths in 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 taskforce 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.

Taskforce spokesperson 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 propel the economic (recovery) momentum since we are a country that relies quite heavily on tourism," said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha.

Unvaccinated travelers will either need to show a negative test result taken within 72 hours of departure for Thailand or undergo five days of hotel quarantine and a test.

Earlier this month, Thailand dropped the requirement for mandatory pre-arrival Covid tests.

Hotels, resorts and tour operators have long been pushing for hassle-free entry rules in an effort to lure more foreign tourists.

The kingdom faces an uphill battle to bounce back from its worst economic performance since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Experts estimate around five million international visitors will come to Thailand this year, down 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 hovered above 100 for almost a fortnight.

Out of some 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.

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