Thailand will fully reopen to vaccinated travelers in a phased approach

Mar 31, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. It was originally published in January. 

Have you already received the COVID-19 vaccine? Thailand is preparing to welcome you with open arms.

This week, the Thai government said it will reopen in a tiered approach, which builds on the previous announcement that the Thai island of Phuket will welcome vaccinated tourists from July 1.

Before that, Thailand’s Phase 1 reopening will begin on April 1, when foreign tourists traveling to the pilot provinces of Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Chiang Mai and Pattaya will be permitted to enter if they have a vaccination certificate and quarantine for seven days in a hotel.

Then, as of July 1, foreign tourists arriving in Phuket who’ve received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will not be required to quarantine for seven days.

In the third phase, starting Oct. 1, travelers arriving in the five aforementioned pilot areas will not have to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.

And finally, starting Jan.1, 2022, no foreign tourists arriving in Thailand will need to quarantine so long as they are fully vaccinated.

“There are people who are fully vaccinated and ready to travel,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, the governor of the tourism authority of Thailand. “But they would only choose destinations that have vaccinated its residents and don’t require quarantine.”

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The move to enter Phase 2 and not require quarantine for vaccinated travelers arriving in Phuket will require at least 70% of Phuket’s residents to be vaccinated in order for the plan to reopen move forward.

The measure will come not a minute too soon for local tourism operators. Tourism is one of the nation’s largest gross domestic product drivers (GDP), and preventative measures against COVID-19 resulted in a huge blow to the industry.

Krabi, Thailand. (Photo by Peerapas Mahamongkolsawas/Getty Images)

Waiving mandatory quarantine requirements would save an estimated 400,000 hotel workers’ jobs, as well as an additional 400,000 in other branches of tourism around the country, according to TTG Asia

In January, local hotel groups petitioned the Thai government to waive mandatory quarantine requirements for entering travelers who’ve been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

Related: A country-by-country guide to coronavirus reopenings

Thailand is one of the world’s most popular international destinations, with a record 40 million visitors in 2019.

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic caused those numbers to plummet to just 6.8 million international arrivals in 2020, according to the Financial Times. Worse yet, the current predictions for Thai tourism only foresee 10 million international visitors in 2021, further affecting the country’s economic situation.

According to Supasorn, the island of Phuket expects about 100,000 visitors in the third quarter of this year, Bloomberg reported.

But Thailand’s strict measures have paid off in other ways: The Southeast Asian country has managed to limit its COVID-19 outbreak to 28,900 cases and 94 deaths — no small feat for a nation with 70 million residents excluding visitors. The nation’s metrics reflect much of Asia’s success as a continent in quashing the coronavirus.

The Thai tourism department has also done its best to frame quarantine requirements in a positive light.

A prominent banner on the official website proclaims, “Amazing Thailand, Happy Quarantine” and encourages visitors to “change a boring quarantine into a joyous, relaxing time.” The Happy Quarantine program includes craft kits for quarantined arrivals, according to the Independent.

Image courtesy of Tourism Thailand.

Still, no vacationer fantasizes about visiting Thailand to create arts and crafts in a hotel room for two weeks, especially for travelers coming from halfway around the world.

Thai tourism limits incoming visitors to a shortened list of country-approved hotels, although the list spans some 200 properties across the nation, with more than 120 hotels in Bangkok alone.

Related: Your guide to pre-travel coronavirus testing before entering the United States

As of right now, travelers who can prove they’ve completed the full vaccination regimen will be considered eligible for quarantine dismissal on arrival in Phuket from July 1.

Related: What the COVID-19 vaccine could mean for your travel plans

Thailand isn’t the only country exploring updated travel requirements for vaccinated travelers. The African island nation of the Seychelles, for example, has already begun allowing fully vaccinated visitors to enter without undergoing quarantine.

Additional reporting by Vikkie Walker and Emily McNutt. 

Featured photo by Supoj Buranaprapapong / Getty Images.

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