26/06/2022

THAILAND DAILY

NEWSPAPER / MAGAZINE / PUBLISHER

thailand-pass-stalling-visitors-who-wish-to-travel-after-may-1st-as-industry-wants-the-app-scrapped

Thailand Pass stalling visitors who wish to travel after May 1st as industry wants the app scrapped

More foreign tourists are part of the answer for Thailand’s still challenged economy. Figures released by the government show falling unemployment in line with rising foreign tourist numbers from the beginning of the year. However, the kingdom needs all the purchasing power it can get with a record household debt and the rising danger of price shock after May with inflation still running at elevated levels. The Vice President of the Tourism Council of Thailand, Wichit Prakobkosol, says that as many as 12 million foreign tourists can be attracted to Thailand in 2022 if the officials respond positively.

It has emerged this week that the Thailand Pass application is stalling potential tourists in their efforts to travel to the kingdom after May 1st with the site advising potential travellers that they will only be able to make such applications after April 29th when a simpler version of the application will appear online. Industry leaders are becoming more vocal in calling for the abolition of the system and a return to normal entry procedures saying it will boost foreign tourism traffic this year by at least 2 million visitors if introduced from June 1st.

thailand-pass-stalls-visitors-after-may-1st
The Vice President of the Tourism Council of Thailand Mr Wichit Prakobkosol (right) has called on the government to scrap the Thailand Pass application from June 1st. It comes amid reports from travel industry sources in the last few days suggesting that visitors trying to book their entry into Thailand after May 1st are being stalled as the application finalises a new, simpler procedure in line with last Friday’s decision by the government to scrap the ‘Test and Go’ entry regime for vaccinated foreign tourists.

As many of the country’s foreign tourism leaders call for its replacement, it appears that the Thailand Pass application is again causing inconvenience to potential foreign tourists trying to book a holiday in Thailand.

In recent days, travel industry sources are reporting that the application, which now controls entry to Thailand for millions, is refusing to accept applications for the period after May 1st until the 29th of April.

This is reportedly due to a reorganisation of the application to accommodate the decisive move last week by the government to scrap the country’s Test and Go entry regime.

Simpler Thailand Pass application from May 29th with only three requirements for vaccinated travellers

This will mean a far simpler Thailand Pass application will now be unveiled in the coming days which will only require three inputs from vaccinated travellers entering the kingdom after May 1st.

This will be the traveller’s passport details, vaccination certificate and proof of insurance, including coverage for Covid, up to $10,000.

The new Thailand Pass will divide potential travellers into two categories, those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

Obviously, for unvaccinated arrivals, the requirements are a bit more demanding.

This group is split between two methods of entry, the first being travellers wishing to enter Thailand without quarantine.

This group must still submit evidence of a negative test within 72 hours of departure, passports details proof of insurance with coverage of $10,000.

This latter requirement only applies to non-Thai nationals entering the kingdom.

Unvaccinated travellers to Thailand required to submit more information with only two options

The second group of unvaccinated people are those who are entering while spending 5 days in quarantine which applies to those who are not in a position to render a negative test within 72 hours of departure.

These passengers must submit their passport details, proof of payment for alternative quarantine stay and a certificate of insurance coverage of up to $10,000.

In the meantime, anyone who has already been approved to enter the country under the Thailand Pass system may use the code already generated to travel to the kingdom without change or further inconvenience. 

Calls to scrap Thailand pass grow louder

The calls to abolish the Thailand Pass application and return to normal entry procedures, however, are growing louder.

This week, Mr Wichit Prakobkosol, the Vice President of the Tourism Council of Thailand, added his voice to others in the industry saying that if the government was to stand down, the entry procedure or application from June 1st, then a further 2 million visitors would be achieved by the end of 2022.

His body estimates that Thailand is still on course to achieve 8 million visitors this year which would be 33% more than the current projections of the Bank of Thailand and World Bank but that an overall figure of 10 million could be reached with that concession.

Mr Wichit said the application was particularly tiresome and difficult on those organising tour groups who may wish to enter Thailand and also felt that June 1st was right for the government to make the move.

‘July is summer break for the short-haul market because families will plan overseas trips, particularly to celebrate after university entrance examinations, so Thailand has to prepare in advance to capture this opportunity,’ he explained in recent days. 

Thailand could achieve 12 million foreign tourists if the Chinese market comes back at the end of 2022

Mr Wichit, nevertheless, welcomed last week’s significant easing of measures and the cancellation of the Test and Go regime but said that this further step was still required.

He said that body feels that the kingdom could achieve twice as many as projected by economic analysts this year if, towards the end of 2022, the Chinese market came back on stream to be met by a far easier and less restrictive entry regime.

He said this would add 2 million arrivals to the country’s tally, bringing the total to 12 million.

Meanwhile, the country may badly need more foreign tourists this year with expectations that export growth over the coming two quarters may be more subdued than the strong performance seen from January to March. 

Rising numbers of foreign tourists already impacting the kingdom’s fragile economy in a positive way

There is also significant evidence that the rising inflow of foreign tourists has already begun to benefit the economy although the crime figures still show figures nowhere near those achieved three years ago or even the higher level of expected figures that have been bandied about in recent weeks.

In January, there were 133,903 foreign tourists followed by 152,954 in February and 189,818 in March.

By comparison, the average monthly arrivals figure in 2019 was 3.3 million.

However, unemployment dipped by 35% in January 2022 from the year previously with a 27% drop in February which, in absolute terms, was a 5.05% drop from the month before.

Good economic news, the test now is how to emerge from stagflation with a large price shock looming as inflation rises

The kingdom needs the extra income in the face of rising inflation which, according to the Ministry of Commerce, ran at 5.8% in February and 5.7% in March.

Threatened price shock for working Thais over summer months must be tackled with rising inflation 

The country is also being threatened with a price shock after May when government subsidies on diesel fuel run out, a situation that combined with a quarterly resupply cycle for shops and the wholesale trade, is threatening to see the country faces a price shock.

Homes will need all the purchasing power than can get with economic data showing that Thai households are still borrowing to make ends meet with the country’s household debt running at 90.1% of GDP or ฿14.58 trillion baht.

The other key consideration is the tightening position regarding the government’s finances despite a rise in income and tax receipts announced last week.

Government is already tightening its belt

Minister of Finance, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, in recent days, intimated that renewed fiscal discipline will now be pursued as opposed to fiscal stimulus and priming the economic pump with inflation already in take-off mode.

This may mean the government may be willing to listen to the tourist bosses on the ground like Mr Thanet Suparashasrangsi of the Tourism Council in Chonburi who, on Monday, called on the government to just make it easier for tourists and their money to come and visit the kingdom.

He said that many people, particularly elderly visitors, simply haven’t got the patience and time to do the online paperwork and are thus going elsewhere. 

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Further reading:

Test and Go scrapped, a giant step by officials that removes testing for incoming air passengers to Thailand

Decision time on plans to ease further restrictions on foreign tourists with strong conflicting views at this time

Minister proposes that vaccinated tourists fly in without notice from May 1st to boost the economy

Fears growing that Covid may yet derail plans to reopen fully to foreign tourism from July 1st next

Minister says Thailand Pass could be gone by June 1st, but suggests the retention of a test on arrival

Travel sector calls for endemic status, scrapping of Thailand Pass and full normality on entry to the country

Thai tourism emphasises its neutrality in the Ukraine war, calls for a review of payment systems

Thailand moving to scrap all tourist restrictions this year once the Covid virus is declared endemic

Opposition targets Test and Go for spreading the virus as government insists on endemic status

Test and Go ready for take off again but this time with added baggage including a second PCR test

PM orders a re-evaluation of the balance between public health and economy as Omicron fears ease

Pandemic drawing to a close, senior public health official says growing Omicron strain is harmless

Top official describes the popular ‘Test and Go’ entry as a loophole exposing Thailand to Omicron

Tourism business owners think the unthinkable, the Omicron storm may bring with it good news

Minister suggests that ‘Test and Go’ now paused entry regime may be restarted in the New Year

Omicron nightmare for already troubled tourism sector: plan to suspend ‘Test and Go’ entry route

Omicron has arrived in Thailand but top officials believe they can manage an escalating situation

Thailand pushes ahead with foreign tourism drive, may defer switch to antigen testing over Omicron

Health officials asks for a review of the list of 63 countries allowed to enter without quarantine

Nightlife to reopen on a certified basis as officials try to balance public health and the economy

Thailand Pass is being upgraded but passenger stress stories continue with cancellation threats

Tourism reopening may lose momentum as government pivots back to public health priorities

Incoming passengers vent frustration at problems and bugs with the Thailand Pass system this week

Kingdom may see up to 1 million tourists this year but it will be an uphill battle to get back to 2019

Vaccinated tourists from 63 countries can leave SHA plus hotels after 1st night says top official in Phuket

Fears for travellers trying to access Thailand in the interim period as Thailand Pass launch nears GO

Russian and Indian travellers unhappy at entry rules for November 1st, call for simpler plans

Most tourists will be able to travel freely in Thailand once they pass their first test on arrival here

46 countries green-lighted as Thailand’s tourism business is set to take off from November 1st

Bright lights may be turned on again for foreign tourism as hated Certificate of Entry is to be axed

TAT boss: quarantine remains for 1 day to test all visitors, no going back to old tourism pub scenes

PM’s reopening order-only the beginning of the end of this cataclysmic crisis for Thai tourism

High-quality tourism dream may be making the COVID-19 crisis for the industry even worse than it should be

Tourism chief again plans to open up Thailand’s rock bottom tourism industry to cryptocurrencies

Dysfunction hits reopening of Thailand to tourism as Health Minister dismisses October 1st date

Bangkok reopening delayed as figures for fully vaccinated must nearly double by October 15th to go ahead

New normal tourism may see foreign and local tourists segregated at Pattaya tourist attractions

Only 13% will visit Thailand under the kingdom’s demanding entry process with 2021 economic growth at stake

October reopening of foreign tourism to Thailand could be another false dawn with cumbersome entry regime

Richest man in Thailand says COVID-19 is like a World War, the kingdom could end up a big loser in the end

Foreigners in Thailand have nearly ฿600 billion in the bank as inequality and poverty rise alarmingly

Rising prospect of GDP contraction for 2021 may see government breach the legal public debt limit

A dead mother beside her children and a taxi driver who slept, show us a nation riven by an extended crisis

Economic fears rising as Thailand faces a bigger crisis than 1997 with rising job losses and debt

Baht falling with confidence in Thailand waning as foreign tourism closure and virus drive funds out

Central bank to lower GDP growth forecast as its attention turns to private sector debt management

Thailand to reopen to ‘big fish’ tourists as a cryptocurrency friendly haven says promotion agency boss

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About the Author

Carla Boonkong is a magazine writer who writes extensively about woman’s issues in Thailand. One of her key subjects is the story of Thailand’s growing influence in the world and the role played by Thai women in the process. She is now a staff writer with Thai Examiner.com in Bangkok. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.

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