Vaccinated SA travellers can visit Thailand from February – with strict testing measures in place

Business Insider SA

South Africa travel Thailand
Thailand, Krabi province, Ko Tub island (Getty Images)
  • Thailand will give its Test & Go programme another shot starting on 1 February, after Omicron halted earlier plans to reopen tourism.
  • This will allow all fully vaccinated international tourists, including South Africans, to visit Thailand.
  • But, in addition to a pre-departure test, travellers must book and pay in advance for two more tests to be taken at an approved hotel in Thailand.
  • Health insurance is also mandatory, as is downloading a mobile app which tracks Covid-19 infections.
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Thailand reopens to international tourists, including South Africans, with its Test & Go programme on 1 February. These health and safety measures include pre-departure and post-arrival testing.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Thailand welcomed almost 40 million tourists, making it one of the most popular destinations in the world. But the pandemic halted international travel and crippled Thailand’s tourism industry which normally accounts for around 20% of the country's GDP.

Thailand desperately tried to revive its tourism industry in 2021, despite consecutive waves of Covid-19 and the emergence of new coronavirus variants.

The country launched its Sandbox programme in July, with the tourist hotspot of Phuket being the first to open. Under this programme, fully vaccinated travellers could travel to Thailand – and remain in specific areas – without having to undergo quarantine. Krabi, Phang-Nga, and Surat Thani were also added to list of Sandbox destinations within Thailand.

Looking to reopen further, Thailand launched its Test & Go scheme in November. This allowed fully vaccinated travellers, who present negative Covid-19 test results before and after arriving, to have unrestricted access to Thailand.

But the Test & Go programme was abandoned after less than a month following the detection of the Omicron coronavirus variant that sent shockwaves across the world and led to renewed travel bans. Travellers from South Africa were the hardest hit by these bans.

Now, Thailand is giving it another shot, with the Test & Go programme returning on 1 February.

The first step in travelling to Thailand is to apply for a Thailand Pass QR Code. The process requires travellers to submit their purpose for travel, departure point, travel itinerary, and standard personal details. This must be done within 60 days of the intended date of departure.

All travellers over the age of 18 must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travelling to Thailand. Unaccompanied travellers between the ages of 12 and 17 must have at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Before jetting off, travellers will need to present a negative PCR test result obtained within 72 hours of their departure. Children under the age of six who are travelling with their parents are exempt from this requirement.

Travellers will also be required to take two further post-arrival tests which must be booked and paid for in advance. These tests must be carried out at a Safety and Health Administration (SHA) approved hotel on day 1 – the day of arrival – and day 5 of the visitor's stay.

The prepayment for day 1 must include accommodation, a test, and a prearranged transfer from the airport to the hotel.

Pre-departure proof of vaccination, a negative test result, and a booking for the post-arrival testing requirements must also be submitted to receive a Thailand Pass QR Code which allows for travel.

Travellers will also need to have a health insurance policy with minimum coverage of US$50,000 (around R780,000) to "cover the cost of treatment and other medical expenses associated with being infected with Covid-19, including in-patient hospitalisation."

The MorChana mobile app, which tracks Covid-19 infection, testing, and recovery details, must also be installed.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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