Thailand mulls Covid-19 vaccine passports to boost tourism sector

Visitors picnicking in the Sukhothai Historical Park, some 430km north of Bangkok. - AFP

BANGKOK, March 6 (Xinhua): Thailand is considering Covid-19 vaccine passports and quarantine exemption amid efforts to boost the ailing tourism sector as inoculation rolled out worldwide.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha has ordered the foreign ministry to conduct a study into the vaccine passports.

"If we decide to unveil the plan, China will be among the first countries that we're going to negotiate with," Thai Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Preliminary plan will involve issuing certifications for inoculated visitors to Thailand, lifting them from the two-week mandatory quarantines and relaxing some restrictive measures, said Wissanu, adding that equal treatment will be required from other countries for inoculated Thai visitors.

However, he said the government still needs time to go through details and specific measures for implementation.

Thailand welcomed about 40 million foreign visitors in 2019, but only 6.7 million trickled in last year.

The South-East Asia's second-largest economy contracted 6.1 per cent year on year last year in its sharpest decline since 1998.

The Bank of Thailand, the country's central bank, has seen tourism sector, which accounts for more than 15 percent of Thailand's economy, as a key to economic recovery.

Thailand has so far confirmed 26,241 cases of infection, 23,418 of which were reported as domestic while 2,823 others referred to those who had returned from abroad and tested positive in the country.

So far, 25,641 patients have fully recovered and been released from hospitals while 515 others are currently hospitalized and 85 fatalities have been reported. - Xinhua
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