The Thailand Pass registration system will remain in place indefinitely, despite calls from key figures in the tourism industry for it to be removed.
Speaking to Thai language news outlet Bangkok Biz News, Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn explained that Thailand Pass is a state registration system and it can not simply be cancelled.
“The Thailand Pass system cannot be cancelled because it holds data and important information on tourists which can be used to trace them when they travel in Thailand,” Mr Pipat said.
Since July 2021, anyone visiting Thailand has been required to register using the Thailand Pass system.
Travellers use the system to upload documents such as a copy of their passport, certificate of vaccination, proof of insurance and hotel booking, prior to travelling to Thailand.
Once approved, travellers are sent a QR code that they are then required to show upon arrival in the country.
Mr Pipat was speaking in response to key figures from the travel and tourism industry who have called on the Thai government to scrap the system as part of an easing of entry restrictions.
Among those calling for an easing of restrictions was AirAsia Group’s CEO Tony Fernandes who put forward a proposal to cancel the Thailand Pass and the RT-PCR test on day five of tourists’ stay in Thailand, as well as lowering the insurance coverage requirements from $50,000 to $10,000.
Meanwhile, Minor’s CEO William Heinecke also called on Thailand to remove the insurance requirements for tourists entirely.
Fernandes and Heinecke were part of a group of twenty associations and investors from the tourism industry who called on Thailand to ease entry restrictions.
They said that Thailand Pass is cumbersome and an inconvenience for tourists, who should be required to show no more than a vaccine certificate.
However, Mr Pipat said that the registration system is no longer complicated and is much improved and more efficient compared to when it was first introduced.
The news comes as Mr Pipat also revealed that the tourism ministry will propose to the government to replace the fifth day RT-PCR test with an ATK test.
If approved, the new rule will be applied from March, Mr Pipat said.
In related news, Thailand has been eyeing a new wave of foreign tourists from the Middle East as it plans for the post pandemic recovery of its tourism industry.
Following the renewal of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Thailand, new opportunities beckon for both countries regarding tourism.
The tourism ministry has said it will aim to attract at least 200,000 tourists from Saudi Arabia to Thailand in 2022.
Speaking of the potential arrival of tourists from Saudi Arabia, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said that 200,000 Saudis arriving in Thailand would generate around 20 billion baht in revenue, with each tourist spending an average of 100,000 baht per person per trip.
He said the Saudi tourists would help to boost the tourism industry in what would typically be the low season.
Mr Yuthasak said that Saudis like to travel in March and May, before Ramadan, which takes place in April.
Saudi Arabian Airlines have already announced the start of direct flights to Thailand from Feb 28, while Thai Airways International is reportedly planning to launch direct flights between Bangkok and Riyadh from May.