Hotels tasked with checking bookings
Hotels must verify each Thailand Pass booking within 30 hours or visitors' registration will be automatically rejected, according to new procedures aiming at monitoring RT-PCR tests.
"The reopening of the Test & Go scheme depends on monitoring 100% of the RT-PCR results, and we have to encourage more tourists to download the MorChana app," Yuthasak Supasorn, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor, told hoteliers during a meeting in preparation for the resumption of the scheme.
New arrivals must take a second RT-PCR test at a hotel five days after landing in the country.
To ensure guests paid for the second test and hotel room before taking their trips, hotels have to verify their bookings within 30 hours after reservation data is sent by the Foreign Ministry, which is responsible for Thailand Pass registration.
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT deputy governor for marketing communications, said the new procedure, called Thailand Pass Hotel & Swap System (TPHS), is designed to help track tourists and contain the possible spread of Covid-19, connecting data from all related parties and updating it for effective analysis.
For locals and foreigners who live in Thailand, there are sufficient choices for the fifth-day booking as there are 2,247 SHA Extra Plus hotels in 39 provinces that can handle bookings with RT-PCR tests, he said.
"If they cannot find such a hotel in their hometown, they can travel to a nearby province," said Mr Siripakorn.
Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, said the main problem in the early stages of Test & Go late last year was a system that was not linked between three parties.
He said tourism operators reported weak points and unexpected flaws in the process.
"Related authorities said they already acknowledged these problems. We hope they will fix them properly," said Mr Thanet.
He said tourists were sometimes granted a QR code from Thailand Pass to enter the country despite lacking a hotel, airport transfer, or an RT-PCR test booking.
Many of them were unable to download MorChana, the central tracking app, because of technical problems, said Mr Thanet. There were also unstable back-end systems that frequently broke down, while some hotels were unable to fill booking data, he said.
The first- and fifth-day confirmation from a hotel via TPHS should help ensure tourists who already paid for rooms and tests will not miss their appointments, said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association.
While the second test might be necessary for the early stages of the new Test & Go, in the long run such restrictions should be removed or replaced with a cheaper method, such as an antigen test kit, said Mrs Marisa.