The economy is very much depending on a stronger performance this year by the foreign tourism industry. The proposal to scrap the Thailand Pass regime will mean that incoming visitors by air will complete a TM6 entry form declaring their status as was the case before 2020 while the Immigration Bureau will again be responsible for screening visitors after they arrive in the kingdom from incoming flights.
The Thailand Pass application which has been seen as the last hurdle to removing entry barriers for incoming foreign tourists may be a thing of the past for visitors to Thailand after June 1st. It comes as the government mobilises to ratchet up the number of arrivals to the country to hit a target of 10 million visitors for 2022 to power badly needed economic growth and confidence which is currently challenged by negative developments. Rising prices in the kingdom are expected to impede purchasing power and domestic consumption, especially from May, while manufacturing output for March has already been adversely impacted by the war in Ukraine.
The Minister of Tourism and Sports has announced that he will propose the abolition of the Thailand Pass application from June 1st.
The news from Bhumjaithai Party minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn comes just a day after his party colleague and leader, Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul told an audience in Bangkok that he would not be opposed to such a move but suggested that the bar could be set higher to require incoming passengers to have booster shots.
Officials to look at the screening process on arrivals but Tourism Minister suggests a flexible approach
However, in his announcement on Thursday, Mr Phiphat appeared to suggest a more pragmatic course when he pointed out that different countries have different public health standards while the key goal of authorities in the kingdom was now to boost incoming foreign tourist numbers by creating a more convenient and seamless entry process for travellers.
Mr Phiphat said this aspect of his ministry’s proposals must be looked at and discussed further.
The Tourism Minister said the new arrival process would be nearly identical to the regime in operation before the pandemic with arrivals being asked to confirm their medical health status on the immigration bureau’s TM6 card when entering the country.
Immigration Bureau officers will process arrivals
He suggested that Immigration Bureau officers will be responsible for screening passengers as they arrive in the kingdom and will have the power to look for supporting documentation where appropriate.
The minister told reporters on Thursday that Minister of Public Health Anutin has agreed to the proposals which will be presented to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) when it meets in May.
Target of up to 10 million foreign tourists in 2022 is being pursued by the government with easy access
The minister revealed the government’s target for foreign tourist numbers this year was anywhere between 7 to 10 million arrivals which match the level forecast by industry leaders and the Tourism Council of Thailand, Vice President, Wichit Prakobkosol who this week made the call for Thailand Pass to be scrapped while predicting that at least 10 million visitors can be achieved this year if the move goes ahead after June.
The minister also pointed out that the new entry system will relieve the extra workload on staff at Thai embassies and consulates worldwide who, since 2020, have been placed under considerable pressure in helping to facilitate access by foreigners through the previously controlled process using pre-approval systems.
Thailand Pass stalling visitors who wish to travel after May 1st as the industry wants the app scrapped
On Thursday, Minister Phiphat also addressed some underlying confusion and controversy over medical health coverage for visitors raised in recent days by industry sources.
Tourism levy will provide required medical insurance
He said the government was poised to finally implement its ฿300 per head entry tax or levy over the coming three months or so.
This would include insurance coverage for all foreign tourists and visitors including coverage for the virus.
Mass tourism to return again in 2021 with 10 million visitors targeted and full insurance cover with arrival levy
The minister also pointed to the government’s key goals of putting the pandemic emergency behind it over the coming months and returning the economy and the critical foreign tourism industry to normality.
Deal with Saudi Arabia will boost incoming tourist numbers during low season from June to September
He announced that Thailand was ready to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Arabia’s state airline based in Jeddah, Saudia, which will open up another key market for the kingdom’s tourism sector.
Mr Phiphat explained that this was a particularly attractive proposition for Thailand as it would boost arrivals during the kingdom’s low season from June to September when Thailand remains an attractive destination, especially for the residents in Saudi Arabia who tend to holiday at that time.
The deal with Saudi Arabia could generate an additional 1 million hotel room bookings for the tourism industry helping its recovery.
Surprise fall in manufacturing output index for March blamed on the Ukraine war and considered a blip
Thailand is depending on its foreign tourism industry this year with rising inflation impacting the domestic economy by reducing purchasing power and with export growth expected to be tempered going forward.
The news comes as Thailand’s Ministry of Industry revealed a surprise drop in its manufacturing production index (MPI) in March for the first time in seven months.
The index dropped by 0.1% which compared unfavourably to a Reuters poll predicting a 2.15% rise in line with February’s performance when the index rose by 2.5%.
A briefing on the development was given by Mr Thongchai Chawalitpichaet of the Industry Ministry who pointed out that for the first quarter of 2022, the kingdom had seen a 1.41% rise in output.
Mr Thongchai disclosed that the month saw a fall-off in the production of air conditioners, hard drives and non-alcoholic drinks.
The ministry official appeared to attribute the disappointing outcome to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
‘April may be stable or positive as it was just a little negative last month. We have to wait and see if the war situation will drag on,’ he explained.
Weak baht with rising foreign tourist numbers needed
He appeared to suggest that the drop was a blip as he pointed to the improvement in growth metrics for the wider economy and a falling baht which has made Thailand’s exports and foreign tourism sector more attractive to external markets.
March exports surge by 19.5% compared to last year, well ahead of analysts’ expectations for the period
He pointed to the higher than expected surge in exports for March when the figures surpassed all projections to record a 19.5% jump in output of which 82 % consisted of industrial goods being shipped out of Thailand.