The tourism ministry of Thailand is set to propose that the country eases some of its entry restrictions in a meeting with the country’s Covid-19 committee this week. The Southeast Asian nation – home to the world’s most visited city, Bangkok, prior to the pandemic – has struggled to attract travelers to its shores in the same numbers that it used to, and hopes that changing its entry requirements will go some way towards remedying the situation.
The country’s ailing tourism sector has been vocal this week in lending its support to such changes, particularly as neighboring traveler hotspots such as Vietnam and Philippines are easing their restrictions in the coming weeks too. Here’s a look at the changes that the tourism ministry is set to discuss.
Restrictions To Change? What Travelers Should Know
Thailand’s popular Test and Go method of entering the country made a return at the start of this month, having previously been scrapped due to fears that the Omicron variant would lead to high case numbers within the kingdom. However, when the scheme returned, it did so with a few extra rules that meant entering the country was not quite as straightforward as it was in its previous iteration – much to the annoyance of travelers around the world.
The updated rules stated that travelers would not only have to test on their day of arrival into the country, but they would have to book themselves into a hotel to be tested for Covid-19 once more on their fifth day – unable to leave until a negative test result was returned. It’s this fifth day testing requirement that has earned a lot of criticism from not only travelers, but those in the tourism industry too – though it could soon be on its way out.
Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said on Friday that his ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will be proposing that this requirement is removed and replaced with an antigen test instead. Not only is this quicker and more convenient for travelers, but it’s also bound to save a lot of money too – with PCR tests in many facilities in Thailand costing upwards of $100.
The minister stated that he would make the proposal this week, on February 23rd, during a meeting with Thailand’s Covid-19 committee. He’s not the only person making the case for restrictions to ease, with a collection of tourism business operators in the country penning an open letter to Thailand’s Prime Minister, asking for Covid-19 to be declared an endemic and for all restrictions in the country to be lifted.
“Thailand needs to further relax Covid-19 restrictions for tourists now, or else it may lose the ability to compete with other nations,” the letter said, before adding that the country was at risk of losing out an influx of travelers this April, a month that attracts large numbers of foreign travelers due to the Easter holidays and Thailand’s Songkran celebrations.
For travelers keen on visiting Thailand, it could be an exciting week if the government follows the lead of its local neighbours and makes it easier to enter. Regardless of the meeting with the Covid-19 committee, travelers might not be able to visit Bangkok anymore either way – as the Thai government is in talks to officially change the name of its capital city to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, which means “City of Angels”.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories