Tourism is referred to as the engine driving the kingdom’s economy, but with global travel halted during the pandemic, that engine is running on empty.
Thailand has eased travel restrictions for citizens from 56 countries in a bid to boost the country’s pandemic-hit tourism industry although visitors will be required to undergo a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.
Tourists from countries including Australia, France and the United States can travel without visas, but would need a certificate to show they were free of COVID-19 72 hours before travel and a reservation at a quarantine hotel, Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesman for Thailand’s COVID-19 task force said on Thursday.
Visitors would then be subject to a two-week quarantine period after arriving, he said, adding that the normal 30-day visa would be extended to 45 days.
While in quarantine, arrivals would undergo three COVID-19 tests, up from two required previously, Taweesin said, adding that more testing could potentially lead to shorter quarantine times in the future.
The revisions come as the tourism-reliant economy struggles to encourage more domestic activity, but an ongoing travel ban continues to keep most foreign tourists away.
“The entry of tourists will stimulate the economy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tanee Sangrat, told the Reuters news agency.
Travellers from other countries not included in the announcement could still be eligible for a 90-day special tourist visa and a certificate of entry.
Thailand’s entry restrictions have helped keep its COVID-19 cases at a low 4,281, but caused widespread economic damage and many job losses.
“We are confident in the Thai public health system, before this we were not sure, but now we are confident in the system,” Tanee said.