Thailand will end a mandatory pre-travel registration for foreigners and extend the service hours of bars and pubs, as the tourism-reliant nation woos global visitors to fuel its economic recovery.
The country’s main Covid-19 task force approved the proposal to scrap the so-called Thailand Pass requirement for overseas tourists, Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn told reporters Friday. It also backed the easing of outdoor mask mandate from next month because of the decline in virus cases, he said.
“It’s a key step to unlock restrictions for major restoration of our tourism,” Phiphat said. The government expects about 1.5 million international tourists a month for the remainder of this year, up from the previous target of 1 million, he said.
Foreign nationals are currently required to upload details of vaccinations and proof of medical insurance covering at least $10,000 before departure to secure the Thailand Pass for their flight boarding and entry. Thai travel and leisure industry players have been calling for cancellation of the registration program, saying it deterred prospective holidaymakers.
“It’s a much-needed good news for Thai tourism, which has been on life-support for so long,” said Wuthichai Luangamornlert, the managing director of Siam Park City Co., operator of an amusement park in Bangkok. “Still, the tourism recovery may take much longer with the absence of visitors from China and Russia, two of Thailand’s main tourist sources.”
An index of tourism and leisure companies jumped as much as 2.2% before trimming gains to 0.4% as of 3:24 p.m. in Bangkok. Royal Orchid Hotel Pcl and Asia Hotel Pcl jumped as much as 18% each.
Before the pandemic, the overall tourism-related sector accounted for about a fifth of Thailand’s economy and jobs, with nearly 40 million overseas visitors in 2019, according to the central bank.
The government will also allow bars, pubs and karaoke clubs to extend their service hours beyond the current midnight-closure mandate, with maximum service times dependent on rules in various municipalities, according to Phiphat.
The government will classified all 77 provinces as low risk for Covid-19 outbreaks, or so-called green zones, allowing local authorities to relax some business and travel restrictions. The Health Ministry also downgraded the Covid-19 alert level a notch to 2 to reflect a decline in cluster infections, it said in a statement.
The easing of measures come as local Covid cases have dropped to about 2,000 a day from almost 30,000 in early April.
Although the mask requirement for outdoor areas will be lifted as of July, “they are still recommended when other people are around or in crowded places such as markets, sport arena and concerts,” Phipat said.