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Thailand to scrap COVID-19 PCR test for visitors to boost tourism

BLOOMBERG – Thailand plans to scrap a mandatory on-arrival COVID -19 test for foreign visitors from next month as the Southeast Asian nation steps up efforts to attract more tourists amid a rebound in global travel.

Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests will be replaced with antigen rapid tests (ART) at the airports, Deputy Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha told reporters in Bangkok yesterday after a meeting of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

Vaccinated travellers will also no longer need to reserve a one-night hotel stay to secure visas, he said.

Thailand joins countries from Australia to the Philippines and Singapore in easing entry rules.

The nation’s hotel industry has long demanded the cancellation of the so-called Test and Go visa programme, seen as a major deterrent for travellers.

The virus task force will again review the proposed visa relaxations after next week’s holidays to mark the Thai New Year, spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin told a briefing.

The biggest challenge for Thailand’s tourism industry is the lack of visitors from China, which has a zero-COVID-19 strategy and is experiencing a surge in Omicron cases, Managing Partner at SPI Asset Management Stephen Innes wrote in a note on Thursday.

The scrapping of RT-PCR tests may help to strengthen the baht at the margin,
he said.

The country reported 25,140 new cases and 89 COVID deaths yesterday, the Health Ministry data showed.

A passenger has her information checked on arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. PHOTO: AFP