The Thai prime minister’s surprise announcement that fully vaccinated tourists from some “low-risk” countries will be able to land in Thailand from November 1 without a quarantine is a blow to the battered tourism industry. But potential visitors will still face the bureaucratic procedures of the compulsory entry certificate issued by Thai embassies around the world.
According to Prayut Chan-o-cha’s proposals, vaccinated visitors from the UK, US, Germany, China and Singapore (with more to come) will be eligible for unrestricted entry on condition that they have the prior approval of the Thai Embassy in the country of departure. This will require a recent recognized antivirus health test and mandatory Covid insurance worth US $ 100,000 in all cases. Other entry certificate requirements vary depending on the specific visa or visa waiver actually requested. These can include proof of income, proof of prior accommodation in Thailand, or even additional (non-Covid) health insurance coverage.
Full details won’t be available on Thai embassy websites for a week or two, as the prime minister’s plans must be ratified by the government’s top health committee and then compiled by the Foreign Ministry for distribution. at diplomatic posts abroad. In an immediate response, Kasikorn Bank’s research department said that in the short term, the revised policy was welcome, but it was a modest step as most tourists plan their vacations for months. in advance.
The new policy will see sandbox initiatives scrapped, as they require tourists to pre-register at a hotel and sleep there for seven nights before being allowed to travel beyond a specified area. The Prime Minister’s statement clearly provides that approved visitors will be free to do their own thing immediately after landing by plane, subject to another Covid test after arrival. The new policy also contemplates that alcohol sales will become legal in restaurants, bars and clubs from December 1. This assumes that the virus is behaving in the meantime.
As one of those chosen, the British would be happy with the announcements. British Airways has said it will review new schedules and travel consortium leader Greg Watkins has prophesied more bookings for Christmas and New Years. However, he warned that travel to Thailand was now more expensive with rising airfares, Covid insurance, embassy fees, RT-PCR health tests and even a new Thai travel tax – all of it. increasing costs. But he welcomed the fact that Thai residents and expats returning to their Thai homes would no longer have to sleep in a hotel for their first seven days.
The new “sun” policy will also depend on the reactions of governments abroad. China is included in the initial list of approved countries, but authorities still ban foreign tour groups there and insist on lengthy quarantine restrictions for their returning citizens. The United States has yet to drop its advice not to travel to Thailand due to health risks, while countries that would be keen to restart holiday travel links (Russia, South Korea, Vietnam and India) are not on the priority list. Not yet anyway.
Commercial sources in Pattaya would be delighted if alcohol and fun are back, hopefully well before Christmas. Some entertainment businesses, such as the resort’s famous transvestite cabarets, will likely remain closed until they see a real improvement in international arrivals. The pedestrian street will remain in darkness as no operating permit will be issued there. But hundreds of bars and clubs elsewhere in the city will be removing their locks. Not as usual, by any means, but a step in the right direction. That’s for sure.