Dancers with protective shields in Thailand: holiday despite Corona
Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP
Anyone who was still planning before Christmas to roll out their towel on a Thai beach outside of Phuket had to bury their dream.
At least if he didn't want to put up with a hotel quarantine of up to ten days.
In view of the rapidly spreading omicron variant of the corona virus, the government of the Southeast Asian country had canceled a relaxation that had only recently been introduced.
But now there are new options for holidaymakers, and they should also pay a small fee for their stay. Foreign tourists will be charged a fee of 300 baht from April, senior officials said on Wednesday. The money would be used to develop tourist attractions and to fund accident insurance for foreigners who cannot afford the costs themselves.
"Part of the fee will be used to take care of the tourists," Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters.
"There were times when the insurance didn't pay for the tourists." It was then at the expense of the country when the tourists had to be taken care of.
Supasorn added that the funds will also be used to improve tourism infrastructure.
The new fee will be added to the price of airline tickets and is part of the government's plans for sustainable tourism, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said.
Khao Lak, Kho Samui and Krabi can also be visited without quarantine
The fee adds to a list of requirements for foreign tourists wishing to enter Thailand. These include PCR testing before and after entry, hotel accommodation or quarantine, and medical insurance that includes Covid-19 treatment, with coverage of at least $50,000. In addition, holidaymakers must generally apply for a so-called Thailand passport online at least seven days before departure and register for one of the entry programs:
Anyone who wanted to travel to Thailand had to prepare for a quarantine of at least seven days due to the pandemic – unless the destination was the island region of Phuket. The so-called
has now been expanded to include other popular travel destinations. As announced by the Thai Tourist Board, its regulations have also applied to the Krabi, Phang-Nga (Khao Lak) and Surat Thani (Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao) regions since Tuesday.
The program allows those who have been fully vaccinated and those who have recovered to move freely in the designated regions for a fixed period of seven nights after arrival. After this time, the entire Kingdom of Thailand can be traveled. The only requirement for this are two negative PCR tests - the first upon entry, the second a few days later. Participation in the sandbox program is not possible for those who have not been vaccinated.
The sandbox program is popular. Before the expansion, an average of 4,000 holidaymakers had registered to visit Phuket every day, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing Phuket's tourism authority. Most applicants come from Germany, Russia and Great Britain, it said.
, according to which tourists could also take quarantine-free holidays in the rest of the country, was suspended in view of the rapid spread of the omicron variant.
Until January 15, visitors who have already successfully registered for the "Thailand Pass" and this model are still allowed to enter the country.
All others must - if they do not enter via the sandbox program - after arrival by plane between seven (vaccinated and recovered) or ten days (unvaccinated) in quarantine, which must be spent continuously in the hotel.
This is the
Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) program
, which requires proof of booking for an ASQ hotel upon entry.
Omicron predominant in infected tourists
After the number of new infections in Thailand had recently fallen to around 3,000 per day, it has risen to more than 7,000 in the past few days.
Most new infections in the Southeast Asian country are of the omicron variant, health ministry officials said.
Omicron is now also predominant among the international tourists who tested positive on Phuket, it said.
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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), while the number of new infections with the coronavirus rose by about 55 percent worldwide in the past week, the number of cases in Southeast Asia increased by more than 400 percent, with most cases from India, Timor-Leste, Thailand and Bangladesh have been reported. The number of deaths in the region fell by six percent, but remained stable worldwide.
Thailand is one of Asia's most popular travel destinations and has been hit hard by a pandemic-related slump in tourism.
About 200,000 tourists arrived last year, while in 2019 it was almost 40 million.
Between 5 and 15 million foreign arrivals are expected in the country this year, depending on policies in its main tourism markets, government spokesman Thanakorn said.
Overseas tourists are expected to bring in 800 billion Thai baht ($25 billion) this year, he said.