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Thailand to scrap pre-travel COVID-19 test to boost tourism

BANGKOK (AFP) – Travellers to Thailand will no longer have to take a Covid-19 test before boarding the plane, under plans announced yesterday as part of efforts to reboot the kingdom’s pandemic-battered tourism sector.

From April 1, the requirement to take a negative test within 72 hours of travel will be scrapped, and instead visitors will be tested on arrival in Thailand, spokesman for the country’s Covid-19 task force Taweesin Visanuyothin said.

Draconian travel curbs helped Thailand limit Covid-19 case numbers and deaths in the early stages of the pandemic, but hammered its crucial tourism industry, which accounts for about a fifth of the country’s economy.

Thailand is currently recording around 25,000 new cases of Covid a day as the Omicron variant spreads around the country, but officials hope this will tail off in time for them to move to a “post-pandemic” phase from July.

Seeking to bounce back from its worst economic performance since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Thailand has gradually eased travel restrictions over the past nine months.

A medical assistant waits to test arriving passengers for Covid-19 at Phuket International Airport. PHOTO: AFP
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