There will be no mandatory quarantine for unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated tourists from June 1, but they will still have to pass an antigen test for Covid-19 at the airport on arrival, under changes announced on Friday.
Other measures include the end of the Thailand Pass requirement for Thai returnees, but not for foreigners - who are however promised an immediate decision on their application for the pass.
Spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said after a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) that the five-day quarantine requirement for unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated foreign air travellers will be dropped at the end of this month.
They would be tested using a professional antigen kit (ATK) on arrival. If it was positive they would be treated at a hospital under their travel health insurance, he said. If negative, they would be allowed to enter the country without quarantine.
"Travel health insurance coverage for foreign visitors is still necessary, so that it will not be a financial burden on the public health system catering to Thais," Dr Taweesilp said.
The professional ATK test would be conducted by health personnel with the authority to issue a Covid-19 test result certificate.
Foreign visitors were required to purchase health insurance coverage of US$10,000 before their departure to Thailand.
At present, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated visitors have to stay at designated hotels for five days and an RT-PCR test is mandatory during the quarantine period, if they cannot provide an RT-PCR test certificate on arrival.
The end of quarantine reflects the urgency of the need to catch up with regional rivals in attracting foreign visitors.
Thailand has received only one million foreign arrivals so far this year, but that is still more than double last year's total of almost 430,000, according to Immigration Bureau and Tourism and Sports Ministry data.
Thailand Pass continues for foreigners
Thailand Pass remains unchanged for foreigners despite earlier speculation that the country might scrap it after this month.
Dr Taweesilp said the CCSA decided to cancel the Thailand Pass registration only for Thais returning to the country, starting from June 1. "The country already has the records of all Thais in the Mor Phrom application," he said.
Thai returnees account for 20% of all arrivals at airports.
Foreigners were still required to have a Thailand Pass, but they would know immediately after registation whether their application is approved, he said.
Thailand Pass is now approved by officials at the Department of Disease Control and takes about 48 hours, according to the Consular Affairs Department.
The CCSA spokesman said "artificial intelligence" will take over the task from the Department of Disease Control from June 1.
A total of 521,139 applications for Thailand Pass had been filed from April 29 to Wednesday, and 6,789 of them were still awaiting a reply, according to the the latest information from the Department of Disease Control.