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Lagging Neighbors, Losing Russian Tourists, Thailand Looks to Drop Pre-Arrival Covid-19 Tests

Samut Sakhon Thailand Coronavirus Covid-19 Testing Shrimp Seafood Market-2

Lagging its neighbors in reopening and having lost its Russian tourists base, Thailand may soon make it easier for tourists to visit the kingdom by dropping the requirement for a pre-flight coronavirus test.

While still unwilling to open without tests or quarantine like Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, Thailand will continue requiring tourists to have mandatory insurance, stay one night in a quarantine hotel and take two Covid-19 tests within the first week.

However, taking a small step toward sensibility, the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration is expected on Friday to spare tourists the need to pass an RT-PCR coronavirus test within 72 hours of arrival.

Pre-flight tests, even if they can be had free, are cumbersome and nerve-wracking obstacles for tourists, as it’s never certain test results will arrive in time for boarding, unless they pay hundreds of dollars, euros or pounds for rapid tests.

A growing chorus of businesses, including the Thai Chamber of Commerce, is demanding the government make it easier and cheaper for tourists to visit, pointing to neighboring countries and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has halted the arrival of prized Russian tourists.

The Public Health Ministry will also propose that required insurance coverage be cut to US$10,000, half the current amount.

In addition to insurance, tourists also will have to pay for an RT-PCR test upon arrival, one night in a government-certified hotel while waiting for results and a self-administered antigen test on Day 5.

Tourism, hospitality and entertainment industry executives argue that not only do those restrictions have to go – including the entire Thailand Pass fiasco – but that the nightlife many tourists come to Thailand for needs to be fully reopened. The CCSA also could debate that Friday.

The ministry, however, doesn’t want to lift restrictions fully until July, when it hopes to declare Covid-19 an endemic disease. A ministry committee laid out a four-phase plan to lift controls, with on-arrival tests of some sort required until late May. Thailand Pass will persist until July.