Thailand is seeking ways to shorten the 14-day quarantine for foreign tourists to attract more arrivals as the country opens up.
The Public Health Ministry has instructed the Disease Control Department (DCD) to plan appropriate quarantine periods.
Kiattiphum Wongrajit, ministry permanent secretary, said on Wednesday that the country is mulling shorter quarantine periods to encourage more foreign tourists.
Thailand is desperate to relaunch its tourist industry to boost an economy shrinking fast under the impact of COVID-19. The country is currently open to certain groups of Thais and foreigners (diplomats, businesspeople, etc) but all face mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Thailand’s Cabinet has approved a special tourist visa (STV) for long-staying visitors (90 days) in a bid to revive the tourism sector in Thailand.
Under the STV scheme, long-staying visitors can stay in the country for 90 days, which can be extended twice, each for a further 90 days.
The STV will be granted to long-staying visitors who comply with Thailand’s COVID-19 control and preventive measures. They will be required to undergo a 14-day alternative local state quarantine (ALSQ) upon their arrival.
The DCD has been tasked with estimating the effectiveness of different quarantine periods in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Given that the baseline of 14 days quarantine is 100 per cent effective, the department will estimate the effectiveness of quarantine periods of 12 days, 10 days and seven days.
The ministry is targeting a 10-day quarantine, which it wants to propose to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in the next two weeks.
The effectiveness of the shortened quarantine period will be assessed after one month. If the COVID-19 situation is still under control, it will be shortened further. However, not all visitors will enjoy the same shortened quarantine.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand usually received no less than 2 trillion baht revenue each year from international tourists.
Thailand’s economy should contract between 8% to 12% this year given its reliance on exports and tourism and the strong baht, which gained more than 6% in the second quarter.
The lack of international visitors has deprived the tourism sector of revenue, causing a knock-on effect to all sectors in the economy, and the government is now seeking to allow international visitors to return to limited areas of the country.
But tourists from high-risk countries will still be subject to 14-day quarantine, while those from low-risk countries might eventually be subject to only seven days.