Thailand toys with trouble-free entry by July 2022

Thailand is considering the cancellation of all pre-flight registration procedures by the summer.

The Thai Cabinet is expected to collapse all pre-entry registration in time for the hoped-for surge in high-summer international visitors. Tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the move would simplify the work of hard-pressed Thai embassies, adding that Covid numbers domestically appeared to have thankfully stabilized.

The hope is that the collapse of both the Test and Go and Thailand Pass bureaucracies will boost foreign arrivals by up to 10 million this year, compared with 40 million in the pre-pandemic era. Only visitors who require a visa in advance, for example non-immigrant or longstay, would need to apply to their embassy in advance. Tourists from Europe, Australia and America, for example, would be allowed to enter visa-exempt for 30 days and extend at Thai immigration for a further month.

Airlines and Thai immigration staff on entry would be responsible for checking documentation under the proposed new arrangements. Apart from a valid passport, entrants would need to show their anti-Covid history either by a vaccine passport or similar proof. Whether this would be a double vaccination only or would require a third or booster jab is still under consideration. It is also not yet clear whether anti-Covid medical insurance would still be required. One problem here is that many foreign policies are not written in Thai and some immigration personnel are not multi-lingual.

But the tourist minister said that medical insurance might not be necessary for tourists as the soon-to-be-implemented scheme to add 300 baht to all inbound airtickets might cover emergency hospital costs. However, it was previously stated that the surcharge would be mainly used to improve tourist infrastructure and that only a paltry ten percent (30 baht) would be insurance-related. In any case, the slush fund would not cover all tourist claims but would require hospitals to “bid” for assistance when individual patients cost them dearly.

From May 1, vaccinated international visitors will be able to enter Thailand without pre or post arrival mandatory Covid examinations. However, they still need to register in advance with Thailand Pass for a QR code which requires proof of vaccination as well as insurance worth at least US$10,000. By the high summer, even those prior requirements look like biting the dust. The question now is whether international vacationers will wait for a final decision or will book elsewhere where the situation is already clearer.