Minister wants early revival of ‘Test and Go’ policy for foreign tourists
The Ministry of Tourism and Sports will propose restoring the “Test and Go” registration system within February to facilitate more arrivals and boost tourism, Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said on Wednesday.
Thailand had started allowing vaccinated international travellers from certain countries from November 1, 2021, exempting them from a lengthy quarantine which had been a mandatory requirement for over a year.
The government, however, temporarily suspended Test and Go registrations from December 22 due to the spread of the Omicron strain of Covid-19.
Statistics last week, from January 11-14, showed new infections peaking at around 7,000-8,000 people per day. The number of cases would tend to decrease from now, while the death toll was at a steady level, Phiphat said.
Infection rates have been in control because more than 70 per cent of the country’s population has received two doses of vaccination. It should help alleviate concerns that the infection doesn't have as severe symptoms as in Europe and the US, said Phiphat.
Once the Test and Go policy is revived, travellers will have to follow strict public health guidelines. Visitors will be required to undergo two RT-PCR examinations, the first on the day of arrival and the second on the fifth or sixth day after entry to prevent risk as well as prepare additional contingency plans.
Hotel Isolation – a hotel ready to allow coronavirus-infected travellers to stay in quarantine without moving to hospitals or hospitels – will be added in Bangkok and other provinces, he said.
If the Test and Go policy is implemented within February, the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand this year would rise to 7-8 million, Phiphat said.
It is estimated that 5 million tourists will come from the European and US markets, and 2 million from the Indian and Russian markets, generating 480 billion baht in revenue.
The ministry aims to generate 800 billion baht from the domestic tourism market by pushing Thai people to travel 160 million times. The supporting factor is the "We Travel Together Phase 4" project, which will be presented to the Cabinet for consideration on January 25, he said.
He expects to open the project for people to reserve 2 million nights by February. If everything goes according to plan, Thailand will earn about 1.3 trillion baht in total tourism revenue in 2022, Phiphat said.