Thailand Set to Ease Covid Testing Rules to Lure More Tourists

by BLOOMBERG

THAILAND will scrap a mandatory polymerase chain reaction test on arrival for foreign visitors as the Southeast Asian nation rolls back some of the pandemic-era measures seen as deterring global tourists.

The RT-PCR tests will be replaced with antigen tests, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha told reporters on Friday after a meeting of the nation’s main virus task force. That would mean travelers will not be required to reserve a one-night hotel accommodation to secure visas.

While Prayuth didn’t say when the new measures would take effect, Thai health ministry officials have previously said Covid testing rules will be relaxed from May 1.

Thailand is counting on the return of tourists to accelerate an economic recovery that’s already facing headwinds triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy joins countries from Singapore to Australia and South Korea in easing travel and business curbs after two years of border controls and unprecedented stimulus spending stretched state finances.

Thailand is still battling an omicron-fueled virus wave with new daily cases hovering around 20,000 and fatalities at a six-month high. The country reported 21,808 new cases and 128 Covid deaths on Friday, Health Ministry data showed.