Thailand can scrap 2-week mandatory quarantine for foreign visitors

 Wednesday, February 24, 2021 

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Thailand may amend its 2-week mandatory quarantine for foreign visitors with proof of Covid-19 vaccination as the Southeast Asian nation seeks to revive its pandemic-hit tourism industry.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said on Tuesday his government will consider allowing visitors who can produce a vaccination certificate to skip the quarantine and authorities will come up with a plan to track them during their stay in the country.

This plan to ease rules for tourists signal a shift in Thailand’s stance after months of insisting all visitors must stay in quarantine in the absence of enough evidence that inoculations can prevent virus transmission. If implemented, the move could bolster Thailand’s tourism sector that contributed about one-fifth to the nation’s pre-pandemic economy.

Nattaporn Triratanasirikul, an economist at Kasikorn Research Center in Bangkok said that if this goes ahead as planned, it will be a big boost to tourism and economy. There is still a very high uncertainty on the economic outlook this year, pending all the issues related to the outbreak from local infections, vaccine rollouts and border reopening plan.

Thailand’s central bank has singled out an uncertain recovery in tourist arrivals as “a major risk” to the medium-term growth outlook, with Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput saying it would be very difficult for the economy to return to pre-pandemic levels without tourism. The economy, which shrank the most since 1998 last year, will expand this year “at somewhat a lower rate” than the central bank’s December projection of 3.2%, it said this month.

While Thailand has reopened its borders to most foreign visitors since October, strict quarantine rules have kept most tourists away. The local industry has been calling for relaxed quarantine rules to attract tourists from countries that have started vaccine rollouts, such as China, Singapore and the U.K.

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