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Thailand’s Health Minister Chastised Over Sudden Covid-19 Vaccine Requirement

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Thailand Health Minister Chastised Over Covid-19 Vaccine Requirement

The sudden announcement by Thailand’s Public Health Ministry requiring all international travellers to show proof of at least two Covid-19 vaccinations before boarding flights to Thailand could jeopardize efforts to restore the tourist industry.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has formally notified all parties of a change in arrival rules for international passengers aged 18 and up. This Covid vaccine requirement will be reinstated for flights landing in Thailand beginning at 1 a.m. local time on Monday.

A letter to the prime minister was signed by Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, stated that the new Covid vaccine requirement could and will jeopardize ongoing efforts to restore Thailand’s tourism industry.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was tasked with addressing the issue and devising a solution as soon as possible.

The letter was also addressed to Anutin Charnvirakul, Minister of Public Health, Phiphat Ratchakitprasarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, and Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

The Phuket Tourist Association said it had received negative feedback from foreign tour operators who were upset about the sudden change in arrival rules.

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Thailand’s Sudden Rule Anger Tour Companies

According to the association, tour companies in the United Kingdom stated that no notice was given before the change was announced, and that most of their customers were already on their way to airports and may not have a Covid-19 vaccination certificate with them.

As a result, they may be denied boarding on the flight, and the companies must compensate them. The companies stated that they attempted to find an official announcement on a Thai government website but were unsuccessful.

Tour operators in Scandinavia claimed they were unable to notify their customers about the requirement in time. The companies had to cancel the tickets and issue refunds, which cost them money.

In Germany, tour operators said the jab requirement had created a problem and significantly reduced trust in Thai tourism. More than 1,000 room-night reservations were canceled after being informed of the requirement, as approximately 20% of the population had not been vaccinated.

The new Thai measure could not be cited as a reason for companies to seek refunds from airlines if their customers were denied boarding, causing a problem for both the companies and the clients.

Tour companies in France were also dissatisfied with the requirement because it could not be used to seek a refund from airlines. They would be forced to cancel the Thailand tours and declare force majeure, citing Thai political instability.

Meanwhile, tour operators in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) reported that a number of their customers had not received the full Covid-19 vaccination or had not been vaccinated at all.

The requirement had created a major issue because some major tour operators had already entered into chartered flight contracts with airlines. The sudden change in travel rules prevented the majority of their customers from traveling to Thailand.

The Phuket Tourist Association has urgently requested that the prime minister address this major issue.

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Health insurance coverage

Meanwhile, also starting Monday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) will require visitors whose next destination requires proof of a negative Covid-19 test to show proof of health insurance worth at least US$10,000.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob stated on Sunday that the CAAT’s notice requires visitors who must test negative for Covid-19 before leaving Thailand to show proof of at least $10,000 in health insurance coverage in case the test results in Covid-19 treatment.

People with Thai and United Nations passports, diplomatic passports, and those in transit are exempt from the health insurance requirement.

The CAAT will also require passengers over the age of 18 to show proof of at least two doses of Covid-19 vaccine or full recovery from Covid-19 within the previous 180 days.

Visitors who do not meet the vaccination requirements must present relevant medical documentation explaining why.

Those who do not have the necessary documents may be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival. Travelers who experience Covid-19 symptoms during their flight will be advised to have a Covid-19 test when they arrive.

Except during meals or in an emergency, passengers will be advised to wear face masks throughout their flight.

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