Scrap second PCR test to save high season: Thai tourism associations
Twenty tourist associations led by Phuket have called on the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to ease screening of foreign visitors from late February in time for the holiday season.
“April is a high season for tourism as Westerners tend to take vacations during Easter holidays, which coincides with the Songkran festival in Thailand,” explained Phuket Tourist Association president Phumikit Raktaengam on Thursday.
The 20 tourist associations proposed the following four measures to boost arrivals:
1. Cancel the second mandatory RT-PCR test for arrivals on day five. Statistics show the infection rate among foreigners who take the test on day five is lower than the local infection rate in tourist provinces, said the proposal. Scrapping the second test would reduce tourists’ expenses and attract more visitors, it added.
2. Reduce the quarantine period for visitors with suspected infections from 10 to five days.
3. Cancel quarantine for tourists found to have been in contact with confirmed cases if their first-day test is negative.
4. Reduce mandatory insurance cover from US$50,000 to $25,000.
The 20 associations argued that many other countries had already eased Covid-19 measures in a bid to boost tourism. On February 10, the Philippines cancelled tests-on-arrival and now only requires a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival. Cambodia requires only a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure plus an ATK test on landing. Meanwhile, from February 22 Australia will scrap quarantine measures for fully vaccinated travellers, requiring only a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.
“The easing of Covid-19 in these countries means Thailand will lose its competitive advantage in the international tourism market, as tourists tend to choose destinations with fewer restrictions,” said Phumikit.
“Tourist associations are therefore urging the government to reduce Covid-19 measures for foreign visitors to keep our tourism industry alive and let Thai people return to normal life as soon as possible.”