Face mask requirement in public is abandoned except for crowded areas and places with poor ventilation such as public transport as Thailand drops all restrictions and bugbears which impede foreign visitor numbers. Consequently, a boom is expected in the coming six to seven months with some optimistic industry insiders saying Thailand can achieve up to 15 million visitors in 2022 as the good times, long thought of as lost to the past, come roaring back to life.

Thailand has announced long-anticipated measures that will allow the kingdom’s foreign tourism and nightlife industry to finally return to normal after July 1st when a key committee on Friday decided to do away with the Thailand Pass application, medical insurance requirements and nearly all public face mask-wearing from July 1st next. It is expected that the move will herald a boom in foreign tourist arrivals in the second half of the year as the country’s critical income-generating foreign tourism industry engine gathers steam.

Government House spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana before the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) meeting on Friday still spoke of the need to be vigilant and for the public to continue wearing face masks where appropriate. After the meeting, it was clarified that Thailand Pass will be abolished from July 1st, along with the medical insurance requirements for foreign tourists and the need to wear a face mask in public except in crowded areas and places with poor ventilation.

Thailand has finally moved to do away with the Thailand Pass application for foreign visitors from July 1st next as well as abolishing the requirement for $10,000 medical insurance which was introduced at a higher level in the early days of the emergency when onerous requirements were placed on incoming travellers after the country first opened up again to foreign tourism last year.

Several decisions which will make it significantly easier for foreign tourists to visit Thailand were agreed upon this Friday at a much-anticipated meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha.

Extension of Green zone status to all 77 provinces including Bangkok with a 2 am nightlife closing time 

This includes the extension of green zone status to all of Thailand’s provinces meaning the nightlife industry can return to a 2 am closing time with a promise of further easing being announced in due course as part of the country’s new goal of returning to normality as a priority.

The effective date for these new easing measures will be Friday, July 1st, exactly one year since the Phuket Sandbox first reopened the country’s doors to foreign tourism from abroad.

The Thailand Pass application had become unpopular with foreign tourists due to the need to obtain and upload official documents and the initial glitches and difficulties which emerged at the outset of the system.

Even when it became more efficient and instantaneous in recent weeks, the need to obtain documentation in itself was a key factor in turning people off holidaying in Thailand according to consistent market research surveys.

The most recent easing of restrictions has seen Thailand’s famous and vibrant nightlife roar back to life in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. 

Today’s moves will give this movement even greater momentum.

Measures respond to real needs of foreign tourists which have been clarified by the emergency. Thailand is seen as a place primarily to relax and unwind

Today’s decision regarding nightlife and face masks also underlines what we have learned from the emergency period with an international tourist survey in April showing Thailand is seen still as a country which holidaymakers visit to relax and unwind with the country’s nightlife and massage industry, long played down by tourism officials, being singled out as a key draw for Western, India and Middle Eastern tourists, both men and women, on which the industry is now depending.

Numbers for foreign tourist arrivals are strongly ticking upwards with some industry insiders saying 15 million arrivals can be achieved in 2022

Thailand’s economy is badly in need of a boost to both its current account which has fallen into deficit and to underpin an economy that is labouring to make a recovery this year with the war in Ukraine and rampant inflation negatively impacting the country’s export industry and depressing consumer sentiment in the domestic economy.

Badly needed financial boost which could well be decisive in 2022 for the still-struggling economy

It is feared that the economy may contract in the second quarter although the trend for foreign tourism is decidedly upwards with well over 1 million visitors projected for June with the trend expected to extend into the second half of the year in what Thailand’s economic planners hope will be a foreign tourism boom period with a target of 15 million foreign arrivals and a potential boost to economic growth by an extra 2% this year, seen by more positive sources within the industry such as the Tourism Council of Thailand, as a real possibility.

Thailand’s economy is expected to grow by 3.3% in 2022 despite the recent headwinds and high inflation levels.

Retained documentation requirement but only be subject to random checks at the airport on arrival

Reports from today’s meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) suggest that while the committee has retained the need for vaccinated passengers to show proof of inoculation or for unvaccinated passengers to show evidence of a negative test within 72 hours of boarding, there will be no question of queues or processing of these requirements at the country’s international airports which would be a recipe for chaos given the rising number of arrivals.

Instead, there will be, say officials, random testing of passengers.

Anyone found without the required documentation will be subjected to a medically supervised antigen test on the spot and if the result is negative, they will be allowed to proceed with their travel plans.

It is understood that those who test positive will be subject to medical supervision. 

Good news also on face mask mandate

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) also had good news today concerning the wearing of face masks.

Before the meeting, the Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul, who has long sought to retain the requirement, accepted that a change was in the air. 

On Thursday, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong of the Department of Disease Control at the Ministry of Public Health told local media that he was not aware of a single person that has been arrested in Thailand since the crisis began for failing or refusing to wear a face mask as officials gave the green light to the measure.

He told the press that the ministry now advocated not wearing face masks at appropriate distances from other people as well as, of course while eating or drinking.

Now from July 1st, there will not be a requirement to wear face masks in public except in poorly ventilated areas and crowded spaces such as public transport and concerts.

PM thanks the public for assiduously wearing face masks, saying he thinks this will continue for a while

General Prayut, the PM, specifically thanked the Thai people today for their commitment to wearing face masks saying it had contributed to the national effort to return to normality and observed that many people in Thailand will continue to wear them going forward, for now.

Before the meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) key government spokesman, Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, also pointed to the need to be vigilant and for the public where appropriate, to continue to wear face masks as he discussed the possible easing measures being proposed on Friday.

Visa free for all put forward by industry meeting hosted by Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

There was no mention on Friday of the proposals floated last week by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) advocating extended visa on arrival facilities to all countries and an extended stay for foreign tourists from 30 days to 45 in addition to a proposal to extend multiple entry status to all tourist visas. 

This was part of a package of ideas put forward at a meeting between the tourist promotion agency and over 100 representatives of the sector last Friday.

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