BANGKOK: Thailand will ease its COVID-19 requirements for international travellers from Mar 1, the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced on Wednesday (Feb 23).
Starting from next month, fully vaccinated international travellers entering Thailand will only be required to undergo one reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test upon arrival, followed by a self-administered antigen rapid test after five days.
However, they still need to take an RT-PCR test within 72 hours before travelling to Thailand and spend their first night in hotel quarantine or at other approved quarantine facilities.
"This will reduce the expenses at quarantine facilities," said CCSA spokesperson Taweesin Wisanuyothin. "Still, you need to install the tracing app Mor Chana and submit the self-test result."
Additionally, the Thai government will also reduce the amount of travel insurance coverage from US$50,000 to US$20,000 starting from Mar 1.
On Feb 1, Thailand resumed its Test & Go tourism scheme after suspending the applications in December and January due to the wide spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant.
Under the Test & Go policy, overseas travellers who have been vaccinated against or have recovered from COVID-19 are allowed to enter Thailand and travel freely if they test negative upon arrival.
However, they are required to stay at a pre-paid accommodation on their fifth day of stay in order to undergo a second RT-PCR test. Travellers must remain in their room while waiting for the test result.
Based on data from CCSA on Wednesday, more than 300,000 travellers have applied for entry to Thailand and 80 per cent of the applications have been approved.
The majority of travellers are from Russia, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Singapore, and the top three destinations are Bangkok, Phuket and Chon Buri.
Earlier this month, 20 tourism organisations in Thailand called on the government to ease the COVID-19 requirements for international visitors to boost arrivals in time for the Easter holidays in April.
“Countries that are our competitors in tourism such as Vietnam and Japan are preparing to announce the relaxation of travel measures in April," they said in a letter dated Feb 16, which was submitted to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and related officials.
"Such relaxation by various countries has made Thailand begin to lose its competitiveness in tourism on the global stage, meaning tourists would choose to visit countries without such measures instead of coming to Thailand,” they added.
The tourism sector also asked CCSA to consider declaring COVID-19 an endemic disease by March and to do away with the requirement for RT-PCR test upon arrival.