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24 Jan 2022

Thailand looks to restart quarantine-free tourism from February

The country's tourism industry has been hit hard.

In welcome news for Thailand's tourism industry - and LGBTQ travellers - the Thai government has announced that quarantine-free travel into Thailand for vaccinated visitors will resume from 1 February.

You will still need to apply for an entry visa - under the Test & Go entry system. To comply with the visa requirements, you will to take a Covid test upon entry into Thailand and also a test on Day 5 of your stay.

Following the Omicron wave of infections, Thailand is now moving to a management phase of the pandemic, relaxing restrictions and trying to minimise infection levels.

Thailand's economy relies heavily on international tourism.

What's life like for LGBTQ people in Thailand?

Is it legal to be gay in Thailand?

Yes – homosexuality was decriminalised in 1956.

The age of consent was equalised in 1997.

Is there Marriage Equality in Thailand?

As things currently stand, there is no legal recognition of same-sex couples. There’s a general tolerance of same-sex relationships, but no legal protections.

Does Thailand have anti-discrimination protections based on sexuality?

Yes – protections were introduced in 2015. There are a range of exemptions to the protections that were implemented, so it’s not the strongest framework however it’s better than nothing.

Thailand will resume a quarantine-free visa program for vaccinated visitors starting next month, as the tourism-reliant nation shifts its focus to economic recovery following an ease in new Covid-19 infections. 
International travelers from all countries can apply for visas under the so-called Test & Go entry program from Feb. 1, the government said after a meeting of its main Covid task force on Thursday. Visitors will be required to undergo two Covid tests after arrival, one upon entry and another on the fifth day. 
“We can no longer close our borders as the economic costs will be too high,” Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said. “Reopening and managing the outbreak need to go hand in hand.”  
Thailand has experimented with several visa, quarantine and tourism programs over the past two years to support a sector that contributed about one-fifth of GDP before the pandemic, with 40 million foreign tourists generating more than $60 billion in 2019.
The Southeast Asian nation suspended its quarantine-free program in late December after spikes in the omicron variant were detected among foreign arrivals and in several local communities. 
Slowing Down
Thailand's rate of new Covid-19 infections has waned in recent weeks
Source: Health Ministry data compiled by Bloomberg
While Thailand did see a jump in new cases after the Christmas and New Year holidays, the numbers are far below the peak tallies during the delta wave and have yet to overwhelm the health-care system. The halting of the entry scheme, in concert with more vaccinations and tightening of local restrictions, helped keep the situation manageable, officials said. 
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The decision to revive the quarantine-free travel program is in line with the government’s call to treat Covid-19 as endemic and efforts to revive an industry that employs millions of people. 
“The resumption of this program, which is expected to bring in more foreign tourists, can help strengthen the fragile economic recovery,” said Nattaporn Triratanasirikul, an economist at the research unit of Kasikornbank Pcl, which forecasts about 4 million arrivals from overseas this year. 
“The government needs to find way for the economy to run on its own, so they can reduce fiscal support,” the economist said. “They can’t afford to borrow such a huge amount of money like before.”
The Test & Go program, which previously allowed vaccinated travelers from about 60 countries to skip quarantine, helped attract about 350,000 visitors in just two months before it was suspended. Narrower visa plans have involved so-called Sandbox systems, under which people could arrive and remain in specific destinations like Phuket and Koh Samui with limited restrictions.


Reader's Comments

1. 2022-01-26 13:14  
What exactly does "The age of consent was equalised in 1997." mean.

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