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  • Writer's pictureMila Gaccino

Thailand Eases Entry Rules

Thailand has announced that it would abandon its much-criticized pre-registration process for foreign visitors and no longer require face masks to be worn in public, responding to a slower COVID-19 spread.

Tourism Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan told reporters that the "Thailand Pass" system, where foreign tourists must seek prior approval from Thai authorities, will be halted from July 1, removing one of the country's last remaining travel curbs.

The kingdom is one of the world's most popular travel destinations, but tourism businesses have long complained that its requirement for foreigners to submit multiple documents - from vaccine and swab test certificates to medical insurance and hotel bookings - was impeding the sector's recovery.

Thailand was visited by nearly 40 million people in 2019, but received less than 1% of that number last year despite easing its quarantine requirements.

Though tourism has picked up in recent months, the industry is far from recovering, with huge jobs and business losses in a sector that typically accounts for about 12% of Thai gross domestic product.

The Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) also said the use of face masks would be voluntary starting next month, but advised people to wear them if in crowded settings or if suffering from health conditions.

Thailand has recorded more than 30,000 COVID fatalities overall, but has largely contained its outbreaks, helped by a vaccination rate of more than 80%.

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