Just days after announcing a new requirement that foreign travelers to Thailand must present proof of Covid vaccination, the country has backtracked and withdrawn the rule. The vaccine certificate requirement, which was set to take effect on Monday, was scrapped due to concerns that it would deter tourists. The change comes as Thailand prepares for a wave of tourist arrivals from China, which has recently reopened its borders to the world and eliminated the need for quarantine upon arrival.
According to Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the decision to waive the vaccine certificate requirement was made in order to avoid “inconvenience” to travelers, as most Thais and tourists from China and other countries have already been fully vaccinated and possess some immunity to the virus. Despite the chaos surrounding the vaccine rule, Thailand is still expecting to see 7 to 10 million Chinese travelers visit by air this year, and is hoping to welcome a total of 25 million foreign visitors in total.
However, Thailand will still require travelers coming from countries that mandate negative RT-PCR test results for entry to have adequate health insurance to cover the cost of treatment in the event that they contract Covid while visiting the country. In fact, the health insurance must cover at least $10,000, depending on the entry requirements of the traveler’s home country.
Despite the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic, Anutin is optimistic that Thailand’s economy will recover quickly, thanks to a steady influx of tourists. “If Thai people warmly welcome travelers while being cautious about their own health and safety, the economy will recover quickly after being hit hard by Covid during the past three years,” he said. “Today we will accelerate the process of bringing back what we have lost.”
And it looks like the recovery is already underway, as a group of 269 tourists arrived in Bangkok on Monday from Xiamen, marking the first direct flight to Thailand after China lifted its travel restrictions. Here’s hoping the rest of their trip goes smoothly!