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Thailand to fully reopen to foreign travelers in phased approach

  • Published at 03:04 pm April 9th, 2021
Thailand tourist
File photo: Empty chairs are seen on a beach which is usually full of tourists, amid fear of coronavirus in Phuket, Thailand March 11, 2020 Reuters

Phuket is expected to be the first province to waive the quarantine requirement for vaccinated foreign travellers in July

Thailand’s government has approved a roadmap to fully reopen to foreign travellers in a phased approach.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recently announced that the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA), chaired by prime minister general Prayut Chan-o-cha, has approved its three-stage roadmap to reopen six major tourist provinces to vaccinated foreign tourists, reports TTG Asia.

The first stage

The primary stage, from April to June, is already in action as the kingdom reduced the mandatory quarantine period for foreign travellers and the first batch of visitors availed themselves of the shorter quarantine scheme.

On March 31, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) authorized shorter quarantines for 11 groups of people currently permitted to enter Thailand, with specifics published in a Royal Gazette, according to TAT.

Travelers from non-high-risk countries, identified as those who are free of Covid-19 variants or mutations and have been fully inoculated with vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or allowed by the Thai Public Health Ministry, at least 14 days prior to departure, have been granted a seven-day quarantine.

Meanwhile, travelers who do not have a vaccination certificate and are from countries free of Covid-19 mutations will be subjected to a 10-day quarantine, whereas those from the 11 countries with SAR-CoV-2 virus mutations and variants as announced by the Ministry of Public Health will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine.

Thailand has approved seven vaccines including Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna.

The Thai government has developed a supporting website, Entry Thailand, to assist travelers in determining which quarantine time they are eligible for and to search quarantine stays available in Thailand.

The second stage

In the second stage, from July to September, Phuket Sandbox program will make Phuket the first province to waive quarantine requirements for vaccinated foreign tourists. 

They will be limited to travel activities within designated areas in Phuket for seven days, before being allowed to travel elsewhere in Thailand.

One of the requirements for the proposed reopening is that a minimum of 70% of the island's population, or 460,000 people, be inoculated to create herd immunity.

Phumkit Raktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, estimates that 920,000 to 930,000 doses would be needed to achieve this goal.

By the end of April, the province plans to vaccinate up to 100,000 people. For the July 1 reopening program, more than 16,000 doses were allocated to Phuket, up from 16,000 doses previously.

The province has already begun its vaccination campaign. Approximately 20,000 hotel employees have been vaccinated by mass vaccinations at five different locations across the island as of April 4.

The relaunch would target visitors from 28 countries, with 150,000 projected to arrive between July and September, bringing in an estimated $30 billion baht (US$955 million) in revenue.

The third stage

In the third stage, from October to December, five other major tourist destinations – Krabi, Phang Nga, Surat Thani (Koh Samui), Chonburi (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai – will join Phuket in lifting quarantine requirements for vaccinated foreign tourists.

The Thai government has also hinted at the possibility of a fourth stage, which would allow any foreign tourist who has been vaccinated against Covid-19 and has a vaccine passport to enter Thailand without having to serve quarantine, beginning January 1, 2022.

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