Speaking after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thailand would look at allowing tourists who can produce vaccine certificates – so-called Covid passports – to skip the nation’s two-week quarantine program. Ocha said authorities will devise a scheme to keep track of the visitors.
Tourists are currently allowed to enter Thailand, but they need to prove they are free of coronavirus and undergo three Covid-19 tests during the mandatory quarantine period of two weeks.
Thailand has registered over 25,500 coronavirus cases and 83 deaths.
The Thai tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. According to Bloomberg, in 2019 the country drew some 40 million visitors who spent $60 billion there. However, it registered just 6.5 million tourists last year – and about 500,000 of those were stranded when the government locked Thailand down in March.
Tourism groups in Thailand have been calling for the government to relax its quarantine rules to boost visitor numbers and spending. In January, the government signaled it would be introducing a $10 tourist tax to try and offset some of the costs associated with Covid.
The government has ordered 61 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and plans to inoculate half of its 70 million population by the end of the year. Some of those vaccines will be produced by Siam Bioscience Ltd., which is owned by Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration has also approved Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s Covid-19 vaccine for local emergency use.
Prayuth said his government would allow other Covid-19 vaccines to be registered for use if they meet local rules and private hospitals can control their distribution.