Government officials are betting that Thailand’s removal from the United Kingdom’s “red list” and the U.K.’s acceptance of several vaccines administered here will spark a faster resurgence of British tourists.
When Thailand was put on the U.K.’s tightest travel-restriction list Aug. 30, it sparked a wave of booking-cancellations from Brits who had planned to arrive in Phuket for its “sandbox” quarantine-free travel scheme.
Foreign nationals cannot enter the U.K. when traveling from “red list” countries and British nationals are required to pay for 10 days at quarantine hotel upon returning home. That came across as an unworthy trade-off, as the quarantine would add at least 92,000 baht to the cost of their holiday.
British expats and others who hoped to travel to the U.K. were equally offended by Britain’s baffling refusal to acknowledge any coronavirus vaccine administered in Thailand, even if they were fully vaccinated with the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine or the the American mRNA doses from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.
The U.K. said on Friday, however, that it would remove Thailand from the “red list” on Monday.
Travelers arriving in the U.K. from Thailand won’t even have to undergo PCR testing before disembarking – unlike Thailand, which requires expensive and the invasive tests tests 72 hours before flying, upon arrival and up to two more times in the next two weeks.
While quarantine no longer will be required for anyone arriving in Great Britain from Thailand, travelers still must be tested by the PCR-RT method on their second day in the country.
Thai officials – from government tourism executives to police officers on the ground – all expressed the belief that the delisting will boost tourism from Britain immediately, even before five locations reopen to foreign tourists Nov. 1. Speculation is rife that more coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed Oct. 11 as a result.
The other dose of good news from the U.K. was that the British government was that it would now accept Thai vaccine certificates for those inoculated with vaccines made by AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. No conditions are imposed on the origin country of vaccines used.
However, travelers from Thailand who received vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech and state-owned Sinopharm will not be considered fully vaccinated. Also, those who received a mixture of two different vaccines will be treated as if they are unvaccinated.
Thai officials claimed the decision to remove Thailand from the U.K. red list came, in part, due to the efforts by the Thai embassy in London.
But it actually had more to do with the blowback the U.K. received from every non-Western country whose vaccinations records it refused to accept and the ironic fact that that the U.K. had just donated 450,000 AstraZeneca doses to Thailand.