Saturday, April 10, 2021

Thailand favours vaccine passports to rejuvenate tourism in third quarter

Since October the country has allowed a limited number of tourists to return on long visas, but the uptake has not matched official expectations.

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Thai authorities are preparing a plan to ease restrictions for travellers vaccinated against the coronavirus, senior officials said on Wednesday, as the country looks to revive a tourism industry badly battered by travel curbs.

International vaccination passport apps, including one being planned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), are likely to be accepted.

Measures for vaccinated visitors would include shortening the mandatory quarantine for all arrivals from two weeks to three days for those vaccinated, or waiving it entirely, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters, saying, “We have to be fast because we want to start welcoming tourists in the third quarter.”

TAT has also requested 100,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses for tourism workers in Chon Buri, Krabi, Phang Nga, Chiang Mai and Phuket.

The five provinces will from next month host “hotel area quarantine” programmes offering 5,000 to 6,000 rooms, where visitors can move around within hotel grounds instead of being confined to their rooms, according to the tourism ministry.

The global vaccine rollout has given hope to the pandemic-hit industry, which makes up about 11% of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

In 2019, Thailand received about 40 million foreign tourists, who spent 1.91 trillion baht (US$63.60 billion).

That compares to just 6.7 million visitors last year, due largely to Thailand’s tight limits on international commercial flights and visitors.

Since October it has allowed a limited number of tourists to return on long visas, but the uptake has not matched official expectations.

Thailand on Wednesday received its first 200,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine.

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