In a bid to revive the country’s struggling tourism sector, the tourism ministry is planning to reopen the country for international tourists soon.
The authorities are planning to roll out a national inoculation program and look into coronavirus vaccine passports and quarantine waivers.
Moreover, Prayuth Chan-Ocha Prime Minister of Thailand has also ordered the officials to study vaccine certificates for international travel after signaling the tourism-reliant nation is open to scrapping the two-week quarantine for inoculated visitors.
It must be noted that the local tourism industry of Thailand wants mandatory quarantines to be lifted from as early as July 1 so the nation can open to potentially millions of vaccinated travelers.
The tourism ministry is also proposing a plan for international tourists to undertake COVID-19 quarantine in popular tourist areas, including beach resorts.
The hotel quarantine plan is expected to start in April or May in the provinces of Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani, Chonburi, and Chiang Mai, Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn told reporters after meeting with tourism operators and health officials.
“Why these provinces? They are popular among tourists who usually stay for quite a long time, for one to three months,” he said.
Tourists would be quarantined for two weeks but if they test negative after three days they will be allowed out of their rooms in the hotel area, before traveling to other parts of the country, Mr. Phiphat said.
Other provinces would be able to request to join the program, which still needs government approval, he said.
Last month, the country welcomed golfers from South Korea for its new golf quarantine program.
The ministry also expects a travel bubble plan with countries that have similar vaccine distribution in the third or fourth quarter of the year, Mr. Phiphat said.
On Tuesday, Prime minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha commissioned a study to look into “vaccine passports”, after Thailand started its vaccination campaign on Sunday.
Last year, Thailand’s tourism revenue tumbled to 332 billion baht ($10.94 billion) from 1.91 trillion baht in 2019, as visitor numbers plunged by 83% to 6.7 million.
This year, the state planning agency expects only 3.2 million foreign visitors.
(With Inputs from Reuters)