Thailand to welcome tourists again in bid to revive Covid-battered economy

Bangkok, Oct 26 (EFE).- Thailand, which was one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, is gearing up to welcome foreign visitors without requiring them to quarantine for the first time in 18 months.

From Monday, fully vaccinated tourists from over 40 countries that are considered low-risk, including the United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, China, Spain and the United States, will be allowed to travel to the Southeast Asian country if they present a negative test without needing to quarantine.

While Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha admitted this month that the move “comes with some risk,” the decision has been forced on authorities who are desperate to revive the country’s lucrative tourism sector and its economy as a whole.

Before the pandemic, tourism accounted for between 12 and 20% of Thailand’s GDP.

Prayuth said that more countries would be added to the list from Dec. 1 and others a month later. Other tourists will be allowed to visit but will need to quarantine.

At the start of this month, Thai authorities, which imposed heavy restrictions on arrivals at the beginning of the pandemic, lowered the mandatory hotel quarantine from 14 to seven nights.

In July, Thailand launched a tourist bubble in Phuket that allows vaccinated travelers to visit without needing to quarantine, although they are not allowed to travel to the rest of the country until they spend at least a week on the island.

After overcoming vaccine supply shortages and logistical problems, Thailand’s vaccination campaign has picked up the pace in recent weeks, with 33% of the population now fully vaccinated.

Covid-19 cases are also falling steadily after peaking at over 22,000 new daily infections in mid-August.

Weekly averages during October have been declining but remain at around 10,000 cases per day. EFE

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