What are the entry rules from May 1?
An easing of requirements has tourism operators upbeat about figures, even as the industry enters the low season
Starting from May 1, fully vaccinated travellers entering Thailand are no longer required to endure a brief hotel quarantine and take an RT-PCR Covid-19 test upon arrival.
The latest easing of entry restrictions aims to make international travel more convenient and has been welcomed by both businesses and visitors.
Q: What are the new travel entry rules?
Thailand's reopening to foreign travellers marks a significant milestone as pre-travel and on-arrival RT-PCR tests are no longer needed. In addition, the amount of health insurance coverage has been lowered to US$10,000 from $20,000 for fully vaccinated visitors entering the kingdom from May 1.
Once vaccinated travellers pass through immigration checkpoints, they are free to travel anywhere in Thailand. This means two expensive requirements are eliminated: booking a private van to an SHA Plus+ hotel and staying there until receiving the RT-PCR test result.
Visitors who are not fully vaccinated are subject to different rules. While they no longer need to show proof of a pre-arrival negative RT-PCR test nor undergo an arrival test, they must register for Thailand Pass with a five-day hotel booking, take an RT-PCR test on Day 5, and have an insurance policy with coverage of at least $10,000.
The only exception is made for unvaccinated travellers who can upload proof of a negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours of travel via the Thailand Pass system. This group is allowed entry and is free to go anywhere in the country upon arrival.
All travellers, regardless of vaccination status, must register on the Thailand Pass website. The government starts accepting applications for the new entry measures from April 29, 2022.
Q: What is needed to enter Thailand?
- Thailand Pass registration
- Insurance with minimum coverage of $10,000
- A Covid-19 vaccination or recovery certificate
- Thai visa (if required)
Q: Why did the Thai government finally decide to rescind the mandatory Covid-19 tests?
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha recently said many countries relaxed their travel restrictions and because Thailand depends on tourism for a considerable portion of its economy, it was time to follow suit.
"Tourism is recovering and antigen tests will be more convenient and faster for visitors," Mr Prayut said after chairing a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) last week.
CCSA spokesman Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin said Covid-19 testing under the Test & Go entry programme this month showed a very low infection rate among foreign arrivals, at just 0.46%.
The top three source markets in terms of foreign arrivals in the first quarter were Russia, Germany and the UK, with the bulk of those before the Russia-Ukraine war started.
Louise Tallboy-Wood, a British traveller who visited Thailand in the past, said she would be more likely to consider visiting the country now.
"Given the recent relaxation of restrictions, which often cause stress and take the enjoyment out of planning a holiday, I would definitely consider travelling to Thailand," she said. "It's a beautiful country and the world is learning to live with Covid in its current form. Travel and exploring new places shouldn't be impacted because of that."
Q: What is the response to the revised restrictions?
Pisut Saeku, president of the Thai Hotels Association's eastern chapter, said past restrictions thwarted the tourism industry's attempt to make progress during the pandemic, leaving Thailand unable to compete with neighbouring countries in attracting tourists.
"Now that the Test & Go scheme will be lifted, many travel agencies from India, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan have already contacted us about bringing in tourists," he said.
Mr Pisut said even though next month falls in the low season, the timing is apt for travel agencies and hotel owners to prepare for a swift return of foreign visitors.
Anina Monteforte, the founder and chief executive of The World Within Us, plans to do just that. Ms Monteforte's US-based travel company attempted to launch a trip to Thailand last year, but due to fast-changing restrictions, she decided it would be best to wait until things became more relaxed.
"We follow each country's guidelines to set our travellers up for success, even scheduling in advance any necessary Covid testing for departure," she said. "As regulations ease, it will be easier for us to expand to new destinations across Asia. Our travellers are specifically excited for us to launch our trips to Thailand.
"Thailand is a destination many American travellers want to visit, but they don't know how to begin to plan. There's so much to experience. Our trip is specifically designed to show the culture, amazing food and music of Thailand, building in a way that supports sustainability, the local economy and women in tourism."
Q: How much has Thai tourism recovered compared with 2021?
This month, the Tourism Authority of Thailand reported the number of foreign visitors entering Thailand in the first quarter of 2022 amounted to 444,039, an increase of 2,101% compared with the same period last year.
The tourism sector reported revenue of 34.2 billion baht in the first quarter, a 1,424% increase. Thailand was suffering from a Covid outbreak in early 2021, prompting cautious authorities to enforce stringent rules for international arrivals.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the ministry expects at least 10 million tourist arrivals this year and 1 trillion to 1.5 trillion baht in tourism income, depending on the travel policies of other countries.
In addition, the government said film production teams from 33 countries have arrived in Thailand to shoot 196 films since last July, generating income of more than 4.2 billion baht for the country.