Thailand Weekly Vol. 03
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No more pre-departure testing requirement? Singpore-Phuket cruises? New wave of startup funding? Thailand certainly seems to be coming back to life these days.
Pre-Travel PCR Requirement Dropped
The government has announced that starting on April 1st, tourists entering Thailand from overseas will no longer have to show proof of a pre-departure PCR test within 72 hours of outbound travel as originally required by the Test and Go program. Travellers are still required to book a 1-night hotel stay with one of the many approved hotels, resorts, or villas across the Country, do a test on arrival, and also take an ATK test after five days. Visitors will also need to have insurance that includes COVID coverage of at least USD $20,000. Unvaccinated travellers will need to do a hotel quarantine for 10-days upon arrival.
The CCSA has also outlined a 4-phase roadmap to downgrading the virus to endemic status:
Combatting: This is where things currently stand. The requirements mentioned above will hold firm if positive results are detected in more than 3% of foreign arrivals.
Plateau: The goal is to enter this phase at some point between April and May. Nothing changes for vaccinated tourists in this step, but unvaccinated tourists will only need to quarantine for 5-days upon arrival.
Declining: This is where things start to get exciting. The idea is to enter this stage sometime between late May and late June. Vaccinated tourists can enter Thailand without any requirements, but unvaccinated travellers will need to do an ATK test on arrival. The Test and Go program will be removed, but the Thailand Pass will stay in place. This critical stage will be triggered when daily infections in the Kingdom are between 1000 and 2000.
Post-Pandemic: From July 1st, the goal is to downgrade the status of the pandemic to endemic. Travellers will be able to enter the Country without any requirements regardless of their vaccination status.
It’s amazing to see an actual roadmap in place to help navigate the murky waters that is COVID. I’m one of Thailand’s biggest cheerleaders and am hoping that we’ll see the steps mentioned above come to life. Part of me thinks that there will be delays and setbacks, but part of me also thinks that’s there is a real chance that things get expedited as Thailand competes with other Countries in Southeast Asia to lure a meaningful number of tourists back. Time will tell.
Singapore-Phuket Cruise Trips In The Works
Thailand and Singapore are currently in talks to establish a specific program that would allow for cruises between the City-State and the Island of Phuket. Passengers will enjoy minimal requirements that include being fully vaccinated and proof of a negative ATK test 24-hours before departure. Travellers that take part in this potential program would only be allowed on Phuket, and would not be able to visit other parts of the Country as part of their cruise package. Before submitting the final proposal for approval to the CCSA, Singapore will first need to get the green light from its COVID Authority.
This is one of the multiple initiatives best defined as a ‘Vaccinated Travel Lanes’ that are currently being discussed across Southeast Asia. You can read more about some of the other travel lanes with Malaysia and Cambodia in last week’s edition of Thailand Weekly.
This is an interesting concept to drive Thailand tourism and is perfect for those that specifically want to do a cruise and a cruise only. I do feel that visitors from Singapore are better off taking advantage of the main path into the Kingdom that already exists. With the limitation of only being able to explore Phuket, it feels as though it’d be worth the extra steps to get the Thailand Pass so that visitors have more freedom to explore other parts of the Country with ease. This seems to be an extremely niche program and wouldn't be for someone like myself, but I imagine there’s certainly a market that exists for something like this.
Thailand Travel Tip
Another hot topic that I’ve noticed gets asked a lot is the cheapest way to convert whatever your Local Currency is into Thai Baht. Myself, as well as other friends that live here or travel here use Wise and their Wise Debit Card for this.
Essentially, you create a profile and then transfer money from your local account to your Wise Account. It’s then super easy to convert to Thai Baht at the spot rate plus a small fee. Once you arrive in Thailand, you can then use your Wise Card to pay for things, or pull out cash from most ATM’s. This service has saved me thousands over the years. Think about it this way, if you convert USD $1000 worth of whatever your native currency is to Thai Baht via Wise, the amount you’ll save compared to what you pay with the traditional banks would probably be enough to fully cover a fun night out in Bangkok. Definitely worth it.
New Tax Waiver To Drive Startup Funding
The recent approval of a capital gains tax waiver has entrepreneurs and investors excited. Essentially, income tax that is normally incurred from the sale of startup shares will be voided. The move is expected to create over 400,000 jobs, and drive 320 Billion Baht in startup investment over the next four years. This initiative is aimed at driving growth across 12 target industries which include robotics, quality tourism, and smart electronics.
It’ll be interesting to see how the startup ecosystem evolves in Thailand in the coming years. Singapore is definitely the powerhouse in Southeast Asia in that department as things currently stand, and I don’t expect Thailand to approach the Island-State anytime soon. However, I do think that the Kingdom has a real opportunity to grow and nurture its entrepreneurial ecosystem if certain changes take place, especially as it pertains to access of capital and ease of doing business. This is a good start, and I’ll be curious to see if any future initiatives are enacted to help propel this space in the future.
Only In Thailand 🇹🇭
One Som Tam vendor in the Eastern Province of Buriram has definitely figured out how to drive sales. Her strategy? Share fun photos online while making the famous Thai Dish in a bikini top and lingerie. Pookie, the owner of the restaurant doesn't actually cook the Som Tam in a bikini. It’s for promotional purposes only. The restaurant is bringing in over 10,000 Baht per day. Her motto? ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it’. Good on you Pookie, get that coin 👊🏼.