The second RT-PCR test required by the Test & Go scheme should be scrapped by March if the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) agrees with the proposal, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said on Friday that the ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will propose a relaxation of entry requirements by replacing the second RT-PCR test with an antigen test kit, making the request at the next CCSA meeting on 23rd February.
If the proposal is approved, the new rule will be applied from next month, he said.
“The plan to eliminate all RT-PCR testing upon arrival will be made once the country officially declares COVID-19 an endemic disease,” Mr Ratchakitprakarn said.
In related news, he said the country must seek more potential targets to support the industry during the off-peak season.
The ministry wants to reinvigorate tourism demand in Saudi Arabia following Ramadan in May, aiming to attract at least 200,000 tourists from the country this year.
Mr Ratchakitprakarn said the renewal of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia sparked new opportunities for two-way tourism, particularly during the low season.
Thai Umrah pilgrims who travel to Mecca throughout the year are a key market for Saudi Arabia, in addition to those taking part in the annual Hajj gathering.
He said the ministry already submitted draft memorandums of understanding to the Saudi Ministry of Tourism to be signed during the official visit of Thailand’s state authorities and the private sector to Saudi Arabia at the end of March.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” focuses on long-term partnership, with the TAT aiming to develop tourism cooperation to promote culture and sustainability.
The TAT hopes to welcome 200,000 Saudis to the country this year, generating 20 billion baht in tourism revenue based on average spending of 100,000 baht per person.
He said the tourism promotion should start in March to stimulate demand from those who usually travel before and after Ramadan, which takes place in April.
Some airlines are planning Thailand-Saudi Arabia routes in May, as Thai Airways and Saudia plan to sign memorandums of cooperation with the TAT.
Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor of TAT for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, said potential targets are millennials who may not be familiar with Thailand. This group is huge and has a high level of purchasing power, he said.
The TAT plans to host online webinars and familiarisation trips as well as attend business-to-business events such as the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2022 from 9th-12th May 9 in Dubai and the Post-ATM Roadshow in Riyadh and Jeddah to update tourism products for this market, said Mr Ayudhya.