Two government ministries are targeting June 1 for the cancellation of the Thailand Pass tourist-entry system, but visitors might require Covid-19 booster shots to be considered “fully vaccinated”.
Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn claimed he and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul already agreed to scrap the much-hated Thailand Pass scheme, although Anutin hedged in comments to the media Tuesday.
If approved by the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration and Cabinet, the cancellation of Thailand Pass – which as of May 1 still requires all international arrivals to use a buggy website to submit identification, proof of coronavirus vaccination and health insurance – would mean fully vaccinated tourists would need only complete the normal TM6 arrival card to declare their vaccination status.
Immigration or other agents then would be charged with checking vaccine certificates or passports. Unvaccinated tourists likely still would be required to quarantine.
Anutin said scrapping Thailand Pass would be contingent on Covid-19 cases continuing to fall over the next two weeks.
The health minister was spectacularly wrong when he predicted Thailand would see a post-Songkran surge of coronavirus cases that could push daily cases to 100,000 a day. In fact, reported cases actually have declined since Songkran. The country on Thursday reported 25,833 new cases – 11,395 of them from positive antigen tests – and 127 deaths.
Anutin also suggested that two vaccine shots may be insufficient and that tourists may require a booster shot to be considered “fully vaccinated” and avoid quarantine. The minister said he was reluctant to drop the Covid-19 insurance requirement, as treating infected tourists could put a financial burden on the government.
“If one or two weeks pass and there are no new infections (from tourists), the ministry might suggest antigen testing as well as the Thailand Pass cancellation eventually,” Anutin said.
Tourists have never been the source of Thailand’s Covid-19 woes. And, in March and April, fewer than 1% of tourists tested positive on arrival.
Pipat said he was against a booster shot requirement, as many countries don’t require one. And, without the Thailand Pass website, it’s unclear how the government would enforce the insurance requirement for those arriving without visas.
Thailand saw about 346,000 international arrivals in the first 26 days of April, up from 273,000 in all of March. For the year, the government is target 7-10 million visitors.