Asia Minute: Thailand Carefully Prepares for Tourists

Dec 21, 2020

COVID-19 vaccines are just starting to make their way through the first phase of health workers in Hawaii. But a number of tourism destinations are already adjusting some of their policies and plans when it comes to visitors.

Thailand is making it a little easier to come for a visit, but the country still has some tough conditions.

Travelers from the United States and 55 other countries won’t need visas ahead of time, but they will face a series of other requirements. Any arriving tourist needs to start with a health certificate showing they are free of the coronavirus — evidence of a test within 72 hours of arrival.

Next up: two weeks of isolation at a special quarantine hotel. While there, they’ll be tested three separate times — one more time than the current system.

Government officials hope the more frequent testing will let them shorten that quarantine to ten days — perhaps as soon as next month.

Another change is shifting the strategy away from pursuing visitors from countries that have lower numbers of COVID cases. Bloomberg quotes a spokesman for the Thai government’s Covid-19 response team as saying “the definition of which countries are low risk or high risk changes every day.”

Thailand has been closed to most visitors for months — keeping case numbers relatively low, but businesses are suffering. A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Bangkok Post that foreign tourists are needed to stimulate the economy.

Government figures show about 40-million foreign visitors came to Thailand last year — generating more than 60-billion dollars.