Thailand to ease travel restrictions for vaccinated tourists
Thailand unveiled a roadmap to revive its tourism-reliant economy by gradually scrapping a mandatory quarantine for vaccinated visitors, joining a growing list of nations in making cross-border travel easier ahead of the year-end holiday season.
Visitors from 10 low-risk countries including the U.S., China, Singapore, Germany and the U.K. will not be required to undergo isolation on arrival from Nov. 1, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said in remarks prepared for an address to the nation on Monday. The list of travelers eligible for quarantine waiver will be further expanded from December, he said, adding the government will also consider allowing restaurants to resume the sale of alcohol from Dec. 1.
With countries such as Singapore, Australia and the U.K. moving to ease travel curbs on international travelers in recent weeks, Thailand could no longer delay its reopening, Prayuth said.
“With these developments, we must act quickly but still cautiously, and not miss the opportunity to entice some of the year-end and new year holiday season travelers during the next few months to support the many millions of people who earn a living from our tourism, travel and entertainment sectors as well as the many other related sectors,” Prayuth said.
Prayuth’s government is pushing ahead with a “living with COVID-19” strategy like many of the tourism- and trade-reliant nations around the world after the pandemic ravaged their economies. Thailand saw foreign tourist arrivals plunge to 73,932 in the first eight months of this year, from almost 40 million visitors who generated more than $60 billion in revenue in 2019.
“All that visitors will need do is to show that they are COVID-free at their time of travel with an RT-PCR test undertaken before they leave their home country, and do a test in Thailand, after which they will be free to move around Thailand in the same way that any Thai citizen can do,” Prayuth said.
While the decision may come with some risk of a resurgence in the outbreak, the government will closely monitor and contain any flare-up in infections, the prime minister said.
“We will have to track the situation very carefully, and see how to contain and live with that situation because I do not think that the many millions who depend on the income generated by the travel, leisure and entertainment sector can possibly afford the devastating blow of a second lost new year holiday period,” Prayuth said.
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