BANGKOK, Oct.20 (Reuters) – Thai government officials on Wednesday inspected the readiness of the country’s airports to accommodate travelers without quarantine, who are expected to return next month after nearly two years of strict COVID-related rules. 19 that interrupted vital tourism.
From November 1, the country will allow vaccinated arrivals from low-risk countries to return to popular destinations like Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
Before the pandemic, tourism was one of the main engines of the economy, accounting for 12% of the GDP. But the tourism authority has forecast that foreign arrivals will drop to just 100,000 this year, up from 40 million in 2019 before the pandemic hit.
“November 1 is the first stop,” Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob said on Wednesday during a visit to Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport.
“Foreign tourists and investors from at least 10 countries who are in safe health zones, while doing very well financially, can come to visit and spend in the country.”
Thailand piloted the reopening earlier this year at its resort island of Phuket, allowing fully vaccinated tourists to avoid Thailand’s mandatory two-week quarantine provided they stay on the island.
But Saksiam said the wider reopening would be even easier for travelers, as on-arrival testing could be done at hotels and other accommodation rather than at the airport.
âThe time that a visitor will spend between the terminal gates and the airport exit would take no more than 25 minutes,â Saksiam told reporters.
Thailand has recorded nearly 1.8 million cases and 18,486 deaths since the start of the epidemic, the overwhelming majority in the past seven months.
Reporting by Artorn Pookasook and Juarawee Kittisilpa in Bangkok; Editing by John Geddie and William Maclean
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