Thai PM orders study on 'vaccine passports' to boost tourism


FILE PHOTO: Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul applaud next to a container as they attend the arrival of a plane with a shipment of 200,000 doses of the Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine from China at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, February 24, 2021. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's prime minister said on Tuesday he has commissioned a study to look into issuing COVID-19 vaccination certificates for international travellers, as the country seeks to revive a tourism industry battered by coronavirus curbs.

The Southeast Asian nation has been mulling the idea of so-called "vaccine passports", but no target date has been set and tourism operators have complained about lost revenue.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thailand will proceed with caution, waiting to see how effective vaccines are first in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

"I have already ordered the study so we can be prepared, but it's also important that we proceed in line with other countries," Prayuth said in a post on Facebook on Tuesday.

People in Thailand who are vaccinated would be given certificates, which could be used for international travel, he said.

Thai authorities will meet next week to discuss procedures to obtain such certificates, as well as quarantine arrangements for tourists with "vaccine passports" entering Thailand.

Previously, officials have said vaccinated visitors could have mandatory quarantine cut from two weeks to three days or waived entirely.

The global vaccine rollout has given hope to the pandemic-hit tourism industry, which makes up about 11% of Southeast Asia's second-largest economy.

In 2020, Thailand's tourism revenue slumped to 332 billion baht ($10.94 billion) from 1.91 trillion baht a year earlier, as visitor numbers plunged by 83%.

($1 = 30.3600 baht)

(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Ed Davies)

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