BANGKOK, Oct 22 (Reuters) – Thailand announced rules on Friday for its quarantine-free reopening to visitors from 45 countries, in an effort to revive an economy struggling to recover from the collapse of its vital tourism sector.
Thailand, one of the Asia-Pacific’s most popular tourist destinations, has for the past 18 months enforced strict pandemic entry rules that have been criticised in the travel industry for being too restrictive and onerous.
COVID-19 has cost Thailand about 3 million tourism-dependent jobs and an estimated $50 billion a year in revenue. Since July it reopened Phuket and Samui islands in pilot projects.
The capital Bangkok and other top destinations like Pattaya, Hua Hin, Krabi and Chiang Mai, will reopen from Nov. 1 to vaccinated visitors from 45 nations, who must produce negative COVID-19 tests before and after arrival, plus COVID-19 insurance cover of at least $50,000.
Nighttime curfews in those areas will also be lifted.
“Reopening pilot tourism areas to more foreign visitors, will benefit the overall economy and jobs, particularly the tourism sector and related businesses,” said Thai coronavirus task force spokeswoman Apisamai Srirangsan.
While tourism has been decimated in many countries, the impact in Thailand has been severe, with authorities targeting 100,000 arrivals this year, compared with nearly 40 million before the pandemic.
The eligible countries for quarantine exemption include Britain, the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia.
Visitors must have spent 21 consecutive days in those countries beforehand, unless Thailand was the original departure point, and must arrive by plane, among other requirements.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha last week said entertainment venues would reopen by Dec. 1.
Neighbouring Cambodia, which also relies on tourism, has halved its quarantine period for vaccinated arrivals and started issuing tourism and business visas this week.
Photo – Thai Buddhist abbot monk Phra Athikan Thaweesup (R) walks around the base of a Buddha statue decorated with a face mask, inside Wat Nithet Rat Pradit in Pathum Thani province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand. EPA-EFE/NARONG SANGNAK