With the reintroduction of the Test & Go program, that allows fully vaccinated people to enter Thailand with a Day1 and Day 5 PCR test, businesses in the tourism industry are hopeful for a more sustained growth in international travellers from February and beyond.
The program was reinstated, albeit with some revisions that were not met with a particularly welcoming reception, and will be open for travellers again on February 1.
The new version of Test & Go was almost universally panned by tourists and travellers for added complications and cost, now requiring a second RT PCR test with a pre-booked hotel on the fifth day after arrival, and additional insurance requirements. Inconvenient though it may be, it is generally a step up from the Sandbox programs.
Nevertheless, tourist organisations in Thailand believe that the reopening will open the door to an uptick in foreign arrivals. Between 200,000 and 300,000 international travellers are predicted to arrive in Thailand next month, according to the head of the Thai Hotel Association. She forecasts a steady rise in arriving tourists and is expecting even better numbers for March.
The Thailand Tourism Board Association shared in the hopefulness, though tempered their optimism with a warning that, as has been seen in the recent past, all hopes of upward momentum in tourism numbers can be curbed at the drop of a hat with yet another last-minute government reversal or drastic change.
Barring another setback though, the relaunch of Thailand’s reopening (is this Thailand Tourism 5.0 now? 6.0?), if the numbers do grow in February and continue throughout March, this latest reopening could signal that Thailand has turned the corner in the economic battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. Tourists and hotel and other tourism business operators remain hopeful that Thailand could finally see the return of international and domestic tourism.
SOURCE: ASEAN Now
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