Thailand reverses Covid vaccination access rule for visitors

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Thailand has withdrawn an entry policy announced over the weekend. (representative)

Bangkok:

Thailand has withdrawn an entry policy announced over the weekend that requires visitors to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, the health minister said on Monday, citing adequate immunization levels in China and globally.

Anutin Charnvirakul said checking evidence of vaccinations was clunky and a panel of health experts had agreed to withdraw the new rule, announced by aviation authorities on Saturday ahead of an expected deluge of visitors from China, where COVID-19 has spread. cases have increased significantly.

Anutin Charnvirakul said those who have not been vaccinated would also have unrestricted access.

“Showing proof of vaccination would be cumbersome and inconvenient, which is why the group’s decision is that it is not necessary,” Anutin told reporters.

Thailand, one of Asia’s most popular travel destinations, is enjoying an influx of visitors during its first peak season since the lifting of severe entry restrictions that had caused the tourism industry to collapse last year.

In November it registered 1.75 million visitors, quadrupling the number in all of last year when flights and arrivals from abroad were restricted.

China has been crucial to Thailand, accounting for about a quarter of its annual pre-pandemic visitors. Anutin said the government now expects 7-10 million Chinese visitors, up from a previous estimate of 5 million.

The first flight from China arrived in Thailand on Monday with the first group expected to carry 3,465 passengers on the first day.

“We are very excited to return to Thailand. We have been waiting for three years,” said Wang Zhenyin, 39, one of the first to arrive.

“Before the onset of COVID, we used to come here every year. And this time I’m taking my family to come here.”

Thailand’s tourism authority expects arrivals to exceed 11.5 million for last year, just over a quarter of the pre-pandemic 2019 record of nearly 40 million, which raised about 1.91 trillion baht ($55.17 billion). ) have issued.

The reversal in the vaccination rule follows similar policy reversals by Thailand during the pandemic that have caused widespread confusion among travelers over entry requirements.

Thailand will still require foreigners to provide proof of COVID-19 health insurance if their next destination requires a negative entry test, Mr Anutin said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)

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