India’s decision to abolish RT-PCR covid tests for all travellers from Thailand to India from Monday February 13 is a shot in the arm for Thai resorts such as Pattaya. The emergency requirement was announced last month after Indian health authorities raised the red flag about new-strain infections being introduced to India by returning vacationers.
The extra bureaucracy and the accompanying need to buy medical insurance significantly reduced the number of Indian holiday visitors who had previously led the field in Thailand’s 2022 tourist recovery. In addition, the number of Indian weddings and business conferences slumped, especially in Pattaya where around 80 Indian restaurants can still be found.
The Tourist Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the end of travel restrictions from and to India meant that South Indian arrivals in 2023 are now expected to reach 2019 levels at around 2 million visitors after a slow start. Airlines operating in India confirmed that the health requirements and the need to show extra documentation at check-in had significantly and negatively affected bookings last month. Bookings were now accelerating again.
Meanwhile, Chinese arrivals in Thailand have been slower than expected even though Beijing authorities now allow group holiday travel. There have been delays in issuing new passports in China and location problems in rescheduling charter flights from Chinese cities after a three year prohibition on foreign travel. The slowdown in the Chinese economy and reduced incomes may also be reducing the well-known Chinese love of foreign travel by encouraging them to vacation at home for now.