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Thailand Pass, Test & Go May Be Scrapped May 1

Tourism minister to urge CCSA on April 22 to go beyond dropping on-arrival PCR test

Thailand Pass Test Go Tourists Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok-

Having “tentatively” approved a May 1 change from RT-PCR tests on arrival to antigen checks, Thailand finally may take the long overdue step of scrapping the entire Thailand Pass entry scheme entirely.

Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn was reported Thursday as saying he would propose at the April 22 Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration meeting that the Thailand Pass pre-registration system and the “Test & Go” and “sandbox” entry schemes be ended May 1, finally throwing Thailand’s doors fully open to foreign tourists.

Pipat said at least 10 million tourist arrivals, and 1-1.5 trillion baht in tourism income, is up for grabs and will go the country that makes it easiest and least expensive for tourists to enter. In Southeast Asia, Thailand currently sits near the bottom of that list.

The minister said that, instead of waiting up to a week for the Foreign Affairs Ministry to issue travelers a QR code certifying that the tourist has obtained US$20,000 in health insurance, booked a night of hotel quarantine and paid for an on-arrival PCR test, people could again arriving in Thailand with just a suitcase and a passport, as well as proof of full vaccination against Covid-19.

Those not fully vaccinated likely still would be required to quarantine for five days.

Pipat acknowledged that the overly cautious CCSA, headed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, remain worried about stubbornly high numbers of domestic Covid-19 cases and are petrified of a post-Songkran spike that could see daily cases of 100,000.

The minister pointed out that tourists are not the one contributing to high daily totals and maintaining tough entry restrictions will do nothing to lower those figures. Only 0.58% of international arrivals in March tested positive for Covid-19 on their first or fifth days in the country and, in April that figure is only 0.43% so far.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry reported 43,188 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday – 19,054 found through antigen tests – with only 125 cases confirmed among foreign arrivals. The ministry also reported 115 deaths – 98% involving people over 60 or with underlying conditions – and a test-positivity rate of 29.7%.

The government lifted the requirement for a pre-travel RT-PCR test for air travelers on April 1 and, before Songran, agreed in principle to dropping on the on-arrival PCR test and use antigen tests instead.

Industry groups and even some government organizations, including the Board of Investment, have begged the overly cautious ex-generals with no experience in managing a health crisis to drop all restrictions to rebuild the tourism industry and economy.

Often overlooked, it’s not just the inbound tourism industry that is hurting. Many Thais and most expats refuse to travel overseas as long as Thailand Pass and all its additional expenses remain in place, even though the countries they want to travel to are wide open.

Travel agents estimate the outbound tourism market is only at 10% of pre-pandemic levels.