Thailand to Welcome Tourists with Quarantine-Free Visas

With the launch of a quarantine-free visa program, Thailand hopes to welcome hundreds of thousands of tourists each month, serving as a model for tourism-dependent countries balancing safe border reopenings with economic resurgence.

Visitors of any nationality can apply for quarantine-free entrance into Thailand starting Tuesday, as long as they are fully vaccinated. The government anticipates that between 200,000 and 300,000 people would use the so-called Test & Go program in February alone, with numbers anticipated to rise in the coming months.

The expanded reopening is part of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-push Ocha’s to embrace a “living with the Covid plan” to help the pandemic-wounded economy. A previous quarantine-free program was limited to travelers from just approximately 60 countries. Before the epidemic, tourism accounted for almost a fifth of the country’s gross domestic GDP.

With its increased immunizations and control of the omicron-fueled outbreak, Thailand climbed 18 places in Bloomberg’s current Covid resilience index.

The Thai Hotels Association’s president, Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, remarked, “It’s a thin balance between tourism revival and public health.” “We need to instill confidence in Thai culture since there is still a huge number of people who are wary of foreign visitors.” If other countries are still unsure, they can study the Thai Test & Go methodology.”

According to spokeswoman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, Prayuth’s government expects 5 million international visitors this year, with the bulk coming from Europe and the United States, and the number might rise to 9 million if Chinese and Indian tourists return.

According to Tim Leelahaphan, a Bangkok-based economist at Standard Chartered Plc, the picture for the next three months would be murky, particularly in terms of luring visitors from China, which was the largest group of visitors to Thailand before Covid. Despite this, he said in a report that the reopening should help Thailand return to a current-account surplus of roughly 1.5 percent of GDP this year, albeit it will be lower than before the outbreak.

Over the last two years, Thailand has tried a number of strategies to resurrect the tourism industry, which welcomed 40 million foreign visitors and earned more than $60 billion in revenue in 2019. The first phase of the Test & Go initiative attracted approximately 350,000 visitors before it was discontinued in late December to avoid the spread of the omicron version.

Burin Adulwattana, chief economist at Bangkok Bank Pcl, said, “Thailand is among the world’s top tourist destinations because of all the magnificent attractions and the value for money.” “However, the government should endeavor to reassure travelers that the policies would not change again.”

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