Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport has unveiled a rapid covid-19 tests that will be offered to Fast-Track traveller arrivals for Bt3000 (US$96.00). The Covid-19 test will take approximately 1.5 hours.
All foreigner travellers have been barred from Thailand since March. Now after more than five weeks with no recorded local covid-19 transmission, the country is preparing to allow some groups of foreign travellers.
Business travellers, diplomats and government guests staying for less than 14 days are considered “fast-track travellers” who will be swab tested for the disease at Suvarnabhumi airport to make ensure they are infection-free before entry.
“The test itself takes around one hour and a half,” said Suwich Thammapalo, an official of the Department of Disease Control, adding that its use could be expanded in future for other arrivals and tourists.
Rapid Covid-19 Test now available for foreign tourists
The airport test, costing 3,000 baht, is one requirement for fast-track entry without spending 14 days in quarantine. Its also required of other foreigners recently allowed into Thailand. Ranging from those with resident status or family in the country, as well as international students.
About 1,700 foreigners have applied to visit Thailand for medical treatment such as cosmetic surgery or fertility treatment after a ban on medical tourism was lifted this month, said Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.
The government is considering a plan to open more international travel with a “travel bubble” arrangement with some countries in September, he added.
As the pandemic hits travel, the country is expected to draw at most 8 million foreign tourists this year, down 80% from a year earlier, the Tourism Council of Thailand estimates, although the sector is expected to recover in 2021.
Bangkok Now a “Ghost Town” with no foreign travellers
Hotels are shuttered in the dark, bars are closed and empty food carts are seen around Bangkok’s once-bustling with foreign travellers. The silence shrouds the city’s party land despite the easing COVID-19 lockdown measures.
“Bangkok at night is deserted as never before. I can’t believe it is a tourist haven where I’ve been living all my life. It’s almost a ghost town,” said local resident Anan who lives near Sukhumvit 24. An area home to starred hotels, large shopping malls, high-end and popular restaurants in central Bangkok.
Although the curfew imposed since April to contain coronavirus has been lifted and most businesses are allowed to open, most of them kept their doors closed.
Most tourist businesses are set up for foreign visitors. Without foreign travellers, most hotels, shops and restaurants have to shut their doors and many face business collapse.
Meanwhile, ways in which the country can safely allow the return of tourists are being reviewed. Among them is the idea of “travel bubbles.” The bubbles would involve reciprocal travel arrangements with other countries. Only countries that have shown they can effectively contain the COVID-19 pandemic.