Test & Go may be binned soon

Test & Go may be binned soon

Crowded check-in areas at Suvarnabhumi airport at the start of Songkran. Airports of Thailand estimates that at least 1 million passengers, domestic and international combined, will pass through its six airports during the five-day holiday which began on Wednesday. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Crowded check-in areas at Suvarnabhumi airport at the start of Songkran. Airports of Thailand estimates that at least 1 million passengers, domestic and international combined, will pass through its six airports during the five-day holiday which began on Wednesday. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The government will next week consider scrapping the Test & Go entry scheme and Thailand Pass registration as it aims to pull in more visitors to help the tourism sector.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said on Wednesday the ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will put forward a proposal for the cancellation at a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on April 22.

If approved, the changes are expected to take effect on May 1, meaning tourists would be able to enter the country using vaccine passports instead of having to wait 3-5 days for their documents to be approved, as required by Thailand Pass, he said.

Mr Phiphat said the ministry estimates that at least 10 million tourist arrivals, and 1-1.5 trillion baht in tourism income, hinges on what travel policies each country formulates at this stage of the pandemic.

"Thailand is ready to welcome back foreign visitors as our public health system is adequately equipped," he said.

"However, there has been concern about the number of domestic deaths caused by Covid-19, while daily caseloads of infections after Songkran will also be taken into account when the government considers further reopening the country to tourists," Mr Phiphat said.

Restrictions have been gradually eased since November to revitalise the tourism sector.

The government lifted the requirement for a pre-travel RT-PCR test for air travellers arriving in the kingdom under its Test & Go, Sandbox and quarantine programmes from April 1.

RT-PCR tests on arrival for foreign visitors are also expected to be replaced by antigen tests from next month.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said more than 100,000 hotel rooms have been booked under the government's "We Travel Together" hotel subsidy scheme during Songkran.

The fourth phase of the scheme, intended to stimulate domestic travel, will end on May 31 and the government will consider extending it if hotel operators agree.

Under the scheme, participants pay only 60% of normal room rates, with the government responsible for the rest. The subsidy was initially capped at 3,000 baht per night for up to five consecutive nights in the first stage but has now been stretched to 10 nights.

Mr Yuthasak said more than 450,000 Songkran revellers are expected to take part in activities in Bangkok organised by the TAT and City Hall to mark the five-day festival, with an estimated cash flow of 1.8 billion baht.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha posted on Facebook that Thailand's tourism sector will help the country achieve an economic turnaround this year.

Gen Prayut also wrote that film production teams from 33 countries have arrived in Thailand to make more than 196 films since last July, generating income of more than 4.2 billion baht for the country.

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