Airports Prepared Ahead of Quarantine-Free Tourists’ Arrival

On Wednesday, government officials inspected Thailand’s airports to see if they were ready to receive quarantine-free travelers starting next month, following the government’s plans to reopen the country after nearly two years of pandemic-induced lockdown.

Recently, authorities announced that they would allow fully vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries to visit several Thai tourist destinations, including Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and Bangkok.

Thailand is a tourism-dependent country, with profits from the industry accounting for 12% of GDP before the pandemic. In 2019, before the world experienced the worst health crisis in modern history, it received 40 million tourists.

However, the tourism authority has predicted that only 100,000 foreigners will arrive in the country this year.

During his visit to Bangkok’s Don Muang airport on Wednesday, Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob said: “November 1 is the first step. Foreign tourists and investors from at least 10 countries which are in health-safe zones, as well as doing great financially, can come to visit and spend in the country.”

Earlier this year, the government piloted Phuket’s reopening program, allowing double-jabbed tourists to skip the mandatory two-week quarantine.

But the wider reopening would be even more straightforward for travelers, as they could undergo Covid-19 testing upon arriving at hotels and other accommodations rather than at the airport, Mr. Saksiam stated.

He stated that visitors would not spend more than 25 minutes between passing through the terminal gates and leaving the airport.

Meanwhile, Bangkok authorities announced they had been preparing protocols to test travelers outside airports to avoid congestion on arrival.

Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) deputy governor for domestic marketing, said tourists would now undergo swab testing at SHA Plus hotels with partner hospitals or at swap hubs.

Organized by the Thai Hotels Association (THA), swab hubs would be set up within small hotels and could be hospitals or alternative quarantine facilities. After getting tested, people must stay in their hotel room for the first night, she explained.

Also, over 300 hotels have requested approval from SHA Plus to reopen under health security protocols, Ms. Thapanee added.

The TAT, which has already launched a marketing strategy to attract foreigners, is set to trial standard operating procedures at Suvarnabhumi Airport on October 25.