Reopening sees 6,600+ arrive
Thailand Pass to ease queues at airport
The first day of Thailand's reopening to fully vaccinated visitors saw 61 commercial flights land at Suvarnabhumi airport with slightly over 3,000 passengers arriving on Monday, plus 3,613 at other international airports.
Suvarnabhumi airport's general manager, Kittipong Kittikachorn, said the majority of the flights arrived from Europe. Out of the 3,000-plus travellers who arrived on Monday, about 2,300 were foreign tourists while the rest were Thai returnees.
Mr Kittipong said that while he was satisfied with the progress of the reopening, there was some congestion reported at screening stations, where passengers' vaccination documents were checked before they were allowed to proceed.
Documents will now be verified using a QR code provided code under the Thailand Pass system which is in place at all airports.
According to the Transport Ministry's estimates, about 3,260 international flights will arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport this month, carrying 135,407 passengers, while 3,241 international flights will depart with 135,122 passengers.
Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said that by Friday, 27 airlines will have conducted flights to and from Suvarnabhumi, Phuket, Samui and Chiang Mai airports, with 15,230 passengers from 26 countries.
"The first day of welcoming back visitors was marked with a lively atmosphere," the spokesman said, adding that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who is attending the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, has also been kept abreast of the country's reopening.
The PM asked Thais to make all visitors feel welcome, and for all business operators to follow precautions against Covid-19 so the entire country can benefit from the reopening, Mr Thanakorn said.
The first flight which arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport under the new rules was an All Nippon Airways Flight NH805 from Tokyo, with 11 foreigners and 32 Thais on board.
It was followed by Thai Airways International Flight TG931 from Paris, which landed at around 6am.
Passengers were required to undergo strict Covid-19 screening upon arriving at the airport, which was conducted by airport staff in PPE suits.
Among those who arrived on the first day of Thailand's reopening to vaccinated visitors was a family of four from Frankfurt, who told the Bangkok Post they were excited to be back in Thailand after two years.
"I love the people and culture here," said the father, who said it took his family about two hours to clear the airport.
Another German couple arrived for their honeymoon on Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
When asked about the pandemic situation in Thailand, the husband explained that he and his wife felt safe to travel to Thailand as the screening process was strict from the very beginning.
For the trip to the hotel, only three passengers were allowed in a van -- or one in a taxi -- except for families, all of which were arranged by the hotels, he said.
Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang expressed confidence that the reopening will proceed smoothly and the easing of virus curbs will boost visitors' confidence.
Over the past nine months, there were no more than 100,000 foreign arrivals, but after the reopening, the number is expected to increase in the remaining two months of the year, the governor said.
Pol Gen Aswin added that the Thai Chamber of Commerce has also asked City Hall to consider allowing the Loy Krathong Festival to be held on Nov 19 to boost tourism.
Citizens and residents of 63 countries and territories can now enter Thailand without having to stay in mandatory quarantine, assuming they pass the Covid-19 test upon landing.
Fully vaccinated visitors from other countries will also be allowed to visit the country, though only through a tourism sandbox programme which is currently in place in 17 provinces. Unvaccinated visitors, meanwhile, have to quarantine for 10 days.