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Tourism Billionaire Calls for Thailand to Scrap Pass and Test & Go

William Heinecke - image courtesy of A.J.Wood

One of Thailand’s leading hospitality figures has called on the Thai government to scrap the Thailand Pass and Test & Go program.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, William Heinecke, chairman of the hotel and restaurants empire Minor International has called on Thailand to “remove all travel obstacles and resume pre pandemic entry rules.”

In the letter dated April 18, 2022, Mr. Heinecke says that despite a rise in the number of international arrivals at Suvarnabhumi airport since the lifting of pre-flight COVID-19 tests, it is still a fraction of the average number of arrivals before the pandemic.

“Despite the cancelation of pre-travel COVID-19 testing, visitors to Thailand are still required to pre-book a RT-PCR test along with a prepaid one-night hotel accommodation and health insurance to secure a visa/Thailand Pass, the letter reads

“Visitors must still go through too many requirements before arriving in Thailand.”

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Mr. Heinecke cites other countries that have relaxed or completely lifted the entry requirements for foreign tourists and calls on Thailand to do the same.

“Singapore, for instance, has lifted quarantine requirements and removed all pre-entry approvals for vaccinated travelers since April 1, 2022.”

“As of March 17, 2022, Cambodia has reopened the Visa On Arrival service, waiving requirements of pre-arrival RT-PCR COVID-19 test and post-arrival AK COVID-19 test for vaccinated international travelers.

“Most European countries, the US, the Middle East and Maldives have also totally relaxed their travel restrictions.

“It is time for Thailand to follow suit, remove all travel obstacles and resume pre- pandemic entry rules.”

Mr. Heinecke says that the frequency of domestic transmissions of Omicron within Thailand are greater than those from people entering the country from overseas.

“I believe it is incumbent upon our government to recognize that the frequency of domestic transmission of Omicron within Thailand is far greater than that of internationally-introduced transmission. The ratio is 99:1, respectively.

“I also have faith that the Thai people understand Omicron’s endemic nature and are fully-prepared to move into the new normal.”

“Hence, requirements of pre-arrival Thailand Pass and post- arrival COVID-19 tests are futile and ineffective.

“I propose Thailand immediately cancel the mandatory Thailand Pass pre-approval system, insurance requirements and any post-arrival COVID-19 tests.

“A vaccine certificate or a medical certificate showing full vaccination or immunity should be sufficient for entry.”

About the author

Andrew J. Wood - eTN Thailand

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