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Asia Minute: Thailand ending quarantines for some vaccinated travelers

Virus Outbreak Thailand Tourism Coronavirus Kata Beach
Adam Schreck/AP
A surfer carries his board ashore as the sun sets over Kata Beach on the resort island of Phuket, Thailand on Sunday, May 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck)

The race is on to attract tourism back to parts of Southeast Asia — and Thailand is the latest country to make some adjustments.

Starting Nov. 1, fully vaccinated visitors from five countries will be able to skip quarantine as long as they test negative for COVID-19 both before leaving their home country and upon arrival in Thailand.

This new policy will cover travelers from the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Germany and Singapore.

So far, the resort island of Phuket has been the focus for a trial resumption of tourism in Thailand — but the government wants to expand available destinations.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said the country did not want to “miss the opportunity to entice some of the year-end travelers.”

Health officials say the number of active COVID cases in the country has dropped by more than half since August — while vaccinations have climbed.

More than a third of Thais are now fully vaccinated — and the government says it will exceed its plans to hit 70% vaccination by the end of the year.

As for tourism, the United Nations World Tourism Organization says that before the pandemic, more than two-thirds of Thailand’s overnight visitors came from Asia — with nearly a quarter of them coming from China.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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