Between the start of this year and last Sunday, June 26, just over 2 million foreign travellers were stamped into Thailand at immigration points, mostly at 2 airports – Suvarnabhumi and Phuket. During this time the impediments to arrival in Thailand also became less restrictive.
This Friday, July 1, there will be an official declaration that Thailand is now in “post pandemic” mode. The word endemic is being avoided as Thai officials believe it will be up to the World Health Organisation to make that call.
Arrivals from overseas have seen some newer demographics taking up the slack since the Russian and Chinese tourists are currently in short supply. It should be noted that these numbers are TOTAL travellers arrivals, not a list of tourist numbers.
• India – 220,962
• Malaysia – 184,782
• UK – 121,328
• Singapore – 121,264
• US – 102,964
There has been a renewed push for tourists out of India, a country of nearly 1.4 billion and the fastest growing middle class in the world. And only 3.5 – 5 hours flight time from Thailand airports.
With the Malaysian numbers, included are the many Malaysians popping over Thailand’s southern borders for daily trade or quick weekend trips.
Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit says the government will announce Thailand’s post-pandemic era on July 1.
“What we expect to see is only small or medium clusters that will not do any harm to our public health service. The disease will be under control.”
He commented on the international concerns over two new Covid-19 sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, noting that infections had already been detected in Thailand but, at this stage, had not led to an increase in the number of serious Covid-related infections being admitted to hospitals in Thailand.
On the tourist side of the pandemic, deputy government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisaranakul announced that the International Air Transport Association is predicting that foreign visitors to Thailand could exceed 10 million this year, based on the rising numbers of travellers to other countries this year and the slow improvement in airline schedules and flights.
“The relaxation of restrictions and the promotional activities will create a major impact and help revitalise the tourism industry more quickly.”
The announcement of Thailand’s post-pandemic phase matches the revoking of the much-debated and hated Thailand Pass. The online digital gateway, implemented on November 1 last year, forced all visitors (including Thais until the start of May this year) to apply for a pre-arrival QR code. The scrapping of the Thailand Pass is seen as one of the necessary pillars of tourism recovery in Thailand.
Along with revoking the Thailand Pass, the compulsory US$10,000 insurance is also gone. And from last Thursday, the wearing of face masks is a ‘voluntary’ situation for open and outdoor areas. But masks will still need to be worn in government buildings, on public transport in airports and on all internal flights at this time. As of yesterday, as far as The Thaiger can report, most Thais were still unwilling to ditch their face masks and nearly 100% of Thais walking around the Sukhumvit areas were still wearing their masks. But there were a growing number of at least foreigners starting to take advantage of last Thursday’s announcement.
However, Thailand’s emergency decree, which ceded decision-making powers relating to the Covid pandemic to a body called the Centre for Covid Situation Administration (CCSA), will remain in force beyond July and up to at least the end of September, as of last week’s announcement. Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha remains the chairman of this body.
So countdown to Post Pandemic Day, this Friday.