This Southeast Asian country is poised to introduce quarantine-free travel arrangements for fully vaccinated travelers from November 1, 2021. Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-o-cha, made the announcement in the beginning of October 2021 saying, “I have instructed the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the Ministry of Public Health to urgently consider within this week to allow, as of November 1, international visitors to enter Thailand without any requirement for quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and arrive by air from low-risk countries.” Thailand will now allow visitors from 46 countries including Britain, Singapore, Germany, China and the United States of America who are vaccinated against COVID-19 to forgo quarantine; other than the 10 countries announced previously .
TOURISM WENT BARREN IN 2020
Just like several other destinations depend on inbound tourism, Thailand was hit hard by the vacuum brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, Thailand attracted a record high of almost 40 million visitors in 2019, and tourism made up to around 20% of the country’s gross domestic product that year, The Guardian reported. Travelers fell to around 7 million in 2020 after virus restrictions seized up global travel.
The slowdown, however, was not entirely due to weak demand, but also Thailand’s tight restrictions, which included 14 days hotel quarantine requirements, multiple COVID-19 tests and health insurance coverage. So, lifting quarantine requirements for large numbers of vaccinated visitors will undoubtedly provide a significant boost to its economy. “Reopening pilot tourism areas to more foreign visitors, will benefit the overall economy and jobs, particularly the tourism sector and related businesses,” said Thailand’s coronavirus task force spokeswoman Apisamai Srirangsan.
THAILAND VACCINE REQUIREMENTS
The national plan to allow quarantine-free entry was initially announced in June 2021, which was questioned after new daily infections soared in August to as high as 23,000, with record fatalities on many days. Vaccinations could be an obstacle to a November reopening with only 38.3% of Bangkok residents fully vaccinated so far.
Some exceptions for vaccination requirement are those under 12 years of age, traveling with their parents or guardians, but must have a Medical Certificate with an RT-PCR lab result issued no more than 72 hours before traveling. For those fully vaccinated, proof includes a Certificate of Vaccination with a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) or the World Health Organization (WHO) no less than 14 days before their travel date. The below table is the list of the most recognized vaccines globally and those approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH).
Table: Most Recognized Vaccines
|Vaccine||Approved by Number of Countries||Approved in Thailand by Ministry of Public Health (MOPH)||Approved by World Health Organization (WHO)|
|Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)||59||Yes||Yes|
AIRLINES RESUMING SERVICE
As the country rushes to reboot an industry battered by an 18-month hiatus, Thailand’s aviation industry is gearing up for a grand reopening. Though optimism about initial tourist arrival numbers is tempered, with other countries still observing varying travel restrictions and quarantine measures upon return. In a statement released earlier this month, the national flag carrier Thai Airways said it was resuming service to 36 international destinations. Thai Airways mentioned that in response to increasing demand in international travel to and from Thailand, it aimed to help revive the economy.
With vaccination rates remaining on the lower end among Asian countries, Thailand has now fully vaccinated just a third of its population, and partially vaccinated half. The question is less whether the opening will lead to the further spread of COVID-19.