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Thailand is removing its on-arrival RT-PCR testing by May 1, plus exciting new things to expect

By Camille Santiago Published Apr 26, 2022 6:48 pm Updated Apr 27, 2022 7:09 pm

As much of the world begins to emerge from lockdown, Thailand is looking towards the new normal with their latest campaign, “Visit Thailand 2022: Amazing New Chapter”.

After it has eased entry restrictions and scrapped its quarantine requirement to fully vaccinated travelers in November 2021, Thailand will remove its mandatory RT-PCR testing on arrival beginning May 1, 2022. 

Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, Deputy Governor for International Marketing for Asia and South Pacific announced the news during a press conference held by Tourism Authority of Thailand in Conrad Manila. He added that the said COVID testing will be replaced with a voluntary rapid antigen test kit, provided they have a travel insurance of at least US$10,000.

“’This is not only to re-open the country, but it's the time to re-open the world,’” he quoted, adding that the Thailand Pass may be lifted as well “in the next two months.”

The road to normalcy

In 2019, Thailand had about 40 million international tourists, and half a million of those were Filipinos. When the pandemic hit, the kingdom had to impose a tight border restriction to help prevent the spread of the virus. But like any other country, the move had brought its economy to its knee, with an 80% decline in inbound travel rate. 

As Thailand slowly started to reopen in 2021, its government has introduced the Thailand Pass, and the Test and Go and Sandbox programs allowing vaccinated travelers to enter the country without quarantine. However, it only discouraged some tourists from entering the country. 

“When we launched this scheme, it [didn’t] work, it created a very huge complication. And the time restriction doesn’t help much to drive, to create demand [into] the country,” Petsuwan said.

Now that the Thai tourism industry is slowly getting on its feet, Thailand is making an effort to further boost tourism by changing its travel restrictions again.

Exciting new things await

Targeting at least 10 million tourists by the end of the year, Thailand aims to attract new travelers as part of their campaign through their gimmicks.

“With the new Amazing New Chapters, we are trying to create a new gimmick to play with the international tourists, not only for the Filipinos,” the deputy governor said. 

Now, they are encouraging a “new generation” of digital nomads to visit Thailand—specifically Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai—for workation. There will also be “new ways” for millennials to experience Thailand in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way.

Since the pandemic, the country has also seen “new infrastructure” and “new areas,” including the Grand Railway Station that connects to the Grand Palace, new high-speed rails connecting to rural areas, co-working spaces, malls, and more. They are also pushing to promote Chiang Rai as well—a city located in the northern most of Thailand which has a beautiful scenery of the mountains, islands, and beach resorts.

All in all, Thailand is continuing their efforts “to shift to promote quality over quantity along with responsible tourism.”

“We have geared our strategy to tap into several niche markets, including weddings and honeymoons, sports tourism, health and wellness, gastronomy and green tourism aiming to reshape and transform the tourism industry towards responsible and sustainable travel,” they said.

But Filipinos remain to be one of their "important markets," even if it only captured about 5,269 Filipino tourists from January 1 to April 14, 2022.