At this point, I almost feel bad reading back the tape that is the saga of Thailand’s tourism reopening. It’s kind of like reading a rap sheet for a multi time offender out loud.
One count of proposing 31 steps for visitors to jump through, 15 counts of confusing last minute restriction changes. The list goes on, and the many iterations of Thailand’s tourism proposals have not all been pretty.
Amid strong visitor competition from the recent reopening of other beloved Southeast Asian countries like neighboring Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia, Thailand is quickly changing its tourism tune. The country is now rapidly laying out a framework to drop travel restrictions entirely.
If there’s one thing to be sure of, it’s that no date with tourism in Thailand is a lock, but the step change is big.
As health situations continue to improve and desire for inbound tourism grows, a series of tentative dates has now been announced by Thai officials. These dates, in theory, would be the first for when travel to Thailand might feel “normal” again, a bit like the old days.
Thailand Unveils “Restriction Free Travel” Plan
Travel to Thailand is easier than it was, but by very few definitions could one call it “easy” right now. You still need test(s) and forms and a few other tick boxes to board a flight. Of course, it’s gorgeous, delicious and wonderful — so it can be totally worth it.
In hopes of salvaging a vital tourism season ahead, Thailand now hopes to end all travel restrictions by June 1st, 2022. Again, don’t hold your breath. According to the Bangkok Post, ministers are starting to sing a more logical tune, though.
“Thailand started like a rabbit, running quickly last year as we reopened to visitors. We cannot let the country fall behind as many nations are opening borders and have fewer restrictions than us,”Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Thailand Minister of Sports & Tourism
It’s exciting to think that in just over two months time, travel to Thailand could be as simple as buying a plane ticket again. The newly devised entry protocols from the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports would be triggered in two phases, on the assumption of improving or stable Covid-19 statistics.
Phase 1: Arrival PCR Replaced By Antigen Test
In Phase 1 of the new arrival plans for Thailand, the mandatory RT-PCR for post arrival would be replaced by an antigen test kit from May 1st, 2022. This new date is subject to change as health situations are monitored.
For the time being, all other procedures, such as visas, Test & Go forms and ASQ forms would still be required.
Phase 2: All Arrival Protocols Dropped
From June 1st, 2022, Thailand hopes to drop all of the various iterations of their highly confusing current tourism protocols. No more added forms, and no tests.
Travel to the country, particularly for visa waiver visitors, would be as simple as it was before the pandemic upended the tourism world for more than two years.
Thailand recently ended its pre-departure testing requirement, but the move did little to alleviate confidence, knowing an arrival test would be waiting. If Thailand is able to drop all testing and end cumbersome forms and admin, it could be quite the winning combination.
A Logical Path Ahead For Thailand
After a circuitous route to get there, Thailand’s approach to travel restrictions seems grounded in logic. If health situations continue to improve, Thailand will face strong competition not only from other Southeast Asian wonders, but the globe at large.
Demand for tourism to Thailand was massive in 2019, and if restrictions disappear, much as they have in Europe, it could be a great year to get back there. It’s really hard to beat Thailand as a foodie destination.
Soon, you may have your chance to visit, sans testing or forms.