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Renewed calls to ditch Thailand Pass and PCR test on arrival

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: PR Bangkok

Key figures in Thailand’s tourism industry have renewed their calls for the Thailand Pass and PCR testing on arrival to be scrapped. The sector is now concerned about the potential impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on future tourism numbers. According to a Bangkok Post report, hoteliers now say they fear the invasion could see international arrivals dropping to 10% of pre-pandemic levels.

Speaking at the Thailand Tourism Forum in Bangkok yesterday, the chairman of global hotel operator Minor International, renewed his call for the government to ditch the Thailand Pass system. Bill Heinecke has been vocal on issues affecting tourism’s recovery for some time, penning several open letters to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha over the past 2 years, his most recent at the start of the year, urging him to reinstate the suspended Test & Go entry scheme.

Back in March 2020, Mr. Heinecke was calling on the Thai PM to lockdown Thailand in the early days of the coronavirus.

Addressing forum attendees yesterday, Mr. Heinecke said the government “must now lift all restrictions on international visitors immediately if Thailand is to remain competitive”. Thailand was the first country in the region to re-open its borders but the near total lifting of restrictions in other countries now means it’s lagging behind. He noted that neighbouring Cambodia has completely opened up, as have the Philippines, the Middle East, many European countries, and the UK and US.

Heinecke has warned that the government’s aim of attracting 10 million tourists this year is in jeopardy if the current rules remain. The “10 million tourists” target was a prediction from the Tourism Authority of Thailand at the start of 2022.

Instead, says Mr. Heinecke, Thailand risks seeing only seeing 10% of pre-pandemic numbers, or around 4 million. Despite a recently agreed travel bubble between India and Thailand, Mr. Heinecke points out that there are still no flights between the 2 countries. Adding to the existing challenges is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Heinecke says has led to cancellations from all over the world.

The president of the Thai Hotels Association also expressed her concern for the industry if the current requirement for PCR testing on arrival remains. Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi says the number of infected international arrivals is negligible when compared to cases of community transmission. She says if the government really is serious about encouraging its citizens to live with the virus, which it plans to declare endemic by June, it needs to abolish the Test & Go entry scheme and allow people to arrive with proof of vaccination and a pre-departure negative PCR test result.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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    A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.

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