A number of news outlets are reporting that Thailand is looking at dropping the requirement for visitors to quarantine for two weeks for travellers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
According to Chamnan Srisawat the President of the Tourism Council of Thailand, travel operators in Thailand have started talks with agencies to prepare for the return of more tourists to the country.
The plan, called “Welcome Back to Thailand Again” hopes to open the country back up from the third quarter of 2021 for tourists who can prove that they have received both doses of a recognised vaccine.
Proving that they have received the vaccine may prove problematic however for tourists and the Thai authorities. A number of organisations and governments around the world have looked to developed Covid passports but the lack of a common system that is secure and reliable may delay efforts around the world to reopen borders.
The IATA Travel Pass is one such scheme that is being trialled by Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways and Emirates which claims to be highly secure and reliable. IATA has also called for an EU Vaccine Certificate.
The availability of vaccines is likely to be a stumbling block for Thailand and any other countries looking at similar schemes. By the third quarter of 2021 many countries will have only been able to vaccinate relatively small numbers of the population, generally the older and most at risk. many countries around the world are also finding it difficult to access vaccines until later in the year due to other countries already ring-fencing supplies.
Quarantine requirements have been cited as a major reason why tourists have so far not started to return to Thailand which has attempted to open its borders to more tourism with a range of new visa options.
The Seychelles were recently reported to have removed quarantine for vaccinated travellers which was seen as being a test case for other countries with a high reliance on travel and tourism.
It is reported that up to 1 million tourism jobs have already been lost during the pandemic and there are concerns that another 1 million are at risk in the first quarter of 2021.
Thai Airways have also been struggling to survive the pandemic as their business plummeted as air travel all but ground to a complete stop. The airline was in financial difficulty prior to the pandemic and was in a poor position when the pandemic hit.
Less than 7 million foreign tourists visited Thailand in 2020, the majority in the first three months of the year. Prior to the pandemic Thailand had hoped to attract 40 million foreign visitors in 2020. The Tourism authority of Thailand (TAT) has estimated that 2021 foreign tourist numbers will be just 10 million, rising to 20.8 million in 2022.
Picture credit Geoff Greenwood on Unsplash
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