Growth in foreign tourist arrivals since Sunday, May 1st has been impressive with a 63% spike in numbers arriving at Thailand’s main Suvarnabhumi Airport and a wave which will directly affect the economy, boosting growth and income generation. On Tuesday, the Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul made it clear that the kingdom was in a position to do away with Thailand Pass, the last entry control process. He also confirmed that endemic status in Thailand was now less than two months off which should see a full return to normality and the country’s Emergency Decree rescinded.

Speaking on Thursday, the Bhumjaithai Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister suggested that Thai nationals should be first in line to be given direct access to the kingdom ahead of foreign tourists. His suggestion comes before a meeting of a key government committee later in May which is scheduled to discuss the abolition of the Thailand Pass application as proposed last week by the Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. Mr Anutin also linked the scrapping of the Thailand Pass regime with bringing an end to the country’s emergency decree which he suggested could be let lapse.

axe-thailand-pass-for-thai-arrivals -first-minister-anutin
Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, raised the possibility on Thursday of scrapping the Thailand Pass application for Thai nationals arriving in the kingdom ahead of foreign tourists. At the same time, he gave the impression that the kingdom was ready to return to normal and that the emergency could come to an end within two months.

Ahead of a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in May which will discuss the fate of the Thailand Pass entry regime for travellers to Thailand, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin suggested that he will propose the abolition of the application first of all for Thai nationals returning to the kingdom.

Proposal to scrap Thailand Pass from June 1st as Thailand seeks tourism-driven economic growth

This pronouncement appears to conflict with last week’s plan from his fellow Bhumjaithai Party cabinet colleague, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, who said he was proposing the full abolition of the application to boost incoming arrival numbers from June 1st next.

Minister upbeat about scope government has to open up fully saying the crisis will end within 2 months

Speaking on Thursday, the minister was upbeat however about the scope the government has to ease restrictions against the virus at this time. He indicated that it was now likely that Thailand would declare endemic status sometime in July.

The minister said the country was in a position to now cope with any possible situation and highlighted the low detection rate among incoming foreign travellers since the country’s broader reopening during which the numbers of arrivals have zoomed higher.

This week it was reported that there was a large boost in tourists arrival from last Sunday when the Test and Go entry regime for all travellers including foreign tourists was abolished.

Jump in tourist arrivals since Sunday’s relaxed protocols with a 63% spike compared to Thursday last

21,268 passengers entered the kingdom through Suvarnabhumi Airport and Phuket International Airport on the first day of the new dispensation which saw the Test and Go entry regime and further monitoring eliminated for most visitors.

The number entering through Suvarnabhumi Airport was recorded at 16,868, a 63% spike since last Thursday when only 11,594 arrivals were seen. The airport was originally predicting a 38% rise in arrivals. 

Last Sunday, at the country’s main airport, there were 96 different flight arrivals with the number of airlines flying into Bangkok set to grow further over the coming months as demand ramps up.

The kingdom’s total number of flight arrivals for Sunday was 120.

Direct boost to the economy as Thai government tries to boost GDP further with 3.5% growth expected

Each new arrival to the kingdom represents increased spending power to the Thai economy of over ฿50,000 and an increase in the country’s current account earnings.

The average spend during the opening weeks of the Phuket Sandbox programme last year was ฿47,619 according to government figures, at that time, including medical costs.

In 2019, the average spend per foreign tourist was ฿48,580 or $1,472 but it is thought that arrivals in 2022 have been spending up to 15% more than this because they have more freedom to travel and more establishments are open to cater for their needs.

In this way, these flights, on purely economic terms, represent literal flights of inward capital and economic growth into Thailand with a higher load factor on each flight making it even more impactful.

Despite headwinds from a slowdown in China, inflation and a tightening of government spending, the economy in Thailand is still expected to grow by 3.5% this year.

15 minutes processing time as larger numbers of tourist arrivals fly into the kingdom since May 1st 

Since last Sunday, Thai officials have devised an arrivals regime where all incoming passengers are divided into three groups depending on their health status.

Despite reports of congestion at the airports, it is reported that each arriving passenger on Sunday was able to be processed within 15 minutes.

As things currently stand, all incoming passengers are approved under the Thailand Pass system but under the latest proposal outlined by the Minister of Tourism and Sports Mr Phiphat, last week, the arrival process will revert to the situation prior to March 2020 under the supervision and control of Immigration Bureau officers who will simply inspect each incoming traveller’s passports including digital health status certificates issued by databases worldwide.

Thailand Pass abolition linked with ending emergency

On Thursday, Mr Anutin said that abolition of the Thailand Pass regime for foreign tourists could be extended to all travellers but appeared to link this to the declaration of endemic status concerning the virus which he suggested would take place, in any event, within the next two months.

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin also appears to link the discussion to rescind the Thailand Pass app and regime to the lapsing of the country’s Emergency Decree which, at some point, he noted, must come to an end.

He cautioned that these were decisions to be taken by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the Prime Minister but felt the kingdom was prepared for such a move with declining cases and only 20% of the country’s hospital beds currently being occupied while less than 0.001% of incoming arrivals testing positive.

He admitted, however, that the emergency provision made it easier for officials to manage the current situation.

Potent and direct economic impact of more foreign tourists is the key to Thailand’s fortune in 2022 

Thailand is targeting anywhere from 5 to 10 million tourist arrivals in 2022 with a strong indication that further liberalisation of the entry regime and a complete return to normality may drive these figures up substantially creating an extremely positive economic impact.

It is coming amid falling consumer confidence due to a jump in inflation although there are signs that this is being tempered with the latest figure released on Thursday showing the Consumer Price Index coming in at 4.65% for April, below the 5.7% rise seen in March which was the highest in 13 years.

The government is also facing a tightening financial situation and has begun to ease off on income support measures with the country’s economic planners pinning their hopes and expectations on the strong rebound in foreign tourism which is currently underway.

On Thursday, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha forecasted that the country would return to 50% of 2019 record-setting levels for foreign tourist arrivals in 2023 with a projected final tally of 20 million.

The goal for 2022 is to get over halfway there.

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Further reading:

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Anutin may agree to abolish Thailand Pass but wants all foreign tourists to have booster shots

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