Thailand’s Ministry of Health announced today that the Southeast Asian country will allow foreigners with COVID to travel to its largest island for tourism without going through quarantine, as part of a passport-based vaccination pilot project.
Thailand’s economy, which relies heavily on foreign tourism, suffered significant revenue losses in 2020. The country is now trying to resume international tourism and ensure a sufficient supply of KOVID-19 vaccine to protect the population.
If we can vaccinate 50 to 60 percent of the population, we can safely open up the country and boost the economy and tourism, senior health official Kiatiphum Wongrayit said, according to Reuters.
Thailand imposed a long-term travel ban followed by strict entry regulations to limit the spread of infection, including a 14-day quarantine in government-approved facilities where guests stayed in their rooms and meals were delivered to their homes. As a result, Thailand has so far recorded only 28,577 cases of the pandemic, 92 of which were fatal.
But with import initiatives underway in Europe, the US and other source tourism markets, the Thai government’s priorities are changing. Tourism authorities plan to reopen the country to international travelers by July. They hope that by then most visitors will have been vaccinated and Thailand will have the opportunity to vaccinate its most vulnerable citizens and frontline staff.
With this in mind, Thailand’s coronavirus task force today allowed Phuket province’s main tourist destination to directly admit vaccinated foreign visitors without quarantine requirements from July, after the island admitted 70 percent of its residents.
From April, however, the permanent quarantine for fully vaccinated tourists in Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai, Phang Nga and Krabi will be halved to seven days, Thai Governor Yutasak Supasorn said at a press conference. He also said the quarantine will be expanded to five recreation areas by the fourth quarter.
Authorities plan to launch a large-scale vaccination campaign in Thailand by June and vaccinate half the population by the end of the year. They have just announced that AstraZeneca has placed an order for five million doses of the vaccine, along with five million doses purchased from Chinese company Sinovac Biotech, bringing Thailand’s total order for the vaccine to 73 million doses.
The central bank expects Thailand to welcome only three million international visitors this year, while the number of international arrivals will fall from nearly 40 million in 2019 to 6.7 million in 2020.
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