Singaporeans not putting off travel plans to Thailand despite new Covid-19 rules

Singapore travel agencies and holidaymakers said the new entry requirements are not a major shift and would not pose an inconvenience for travellers.

Fatimah Mujibah

Fatimah Mujibah

The Straits Times


All foreign travellers entering Thailand will have to show proof of vaccination, as part of stricter measures beginning on Jan 9, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS

January 9, 2023

SINGAPORE – Travellers from Singapore are unlikely to be deterred by newly tightened Covid-19 entry rules to Thailand as nearly everyone here is fully vaccinated, said travel agents.

Travel agencies and holidaymakers The Straits Times spoke to said the new entry requirements for Thailand were not a major shift and would not pose an inconvenience for travellers.

Travel agency EU Holidays director Ong Hanjie said he expects demand in Singapore for trips to Thailand to remain strong.

He said on Sunday: “Since the announcement was made only (on Saturday), not everyone who called in today to inquire about Thailand’s booking prices were aware of the rules. Many of them did not consider it an issue when we informed them about what the change means.”

Mr Ong said EU Holidays has seen neither a spike nor a drop in bookings since the announcement was made.

Thailand is a very popular destination for Singaporeans as it is nearby and does not require a big budget, so there is unlikely to be any major impact on his business, he added.

Thailand, like many other countries, is preparing for a fresh wave of tourists from China, which on Sunday opened its borders after three long years as it nixed its zero-Covid policy.

On Saturday, Thai Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said foreigners flying into the kingdom will have to satisfy new entry requirements from Monday.

For instance, all foreign travellers entering Thailand will have to show proof of vaccination.

Adults must show proof of at least two vaccinations or recovery from the virus since July.

Those who are unvaccinated will be required to produce a medical report stating their reasons for not being vaccinated, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand in a statement.

The rules apply until Jan 31.

Both EU Holidays and Chan Brothers Travel said the new rules are not cause for concern as the majority of Singaporeans have received both vaccination doses, as well as booster shots.

Mr Jeremiah Wong, who is a senior marketing communications manager at Chan Brothers Travel, said all customers are required to be fully vaccinated when making a booking.

“Thus, we are not observing any knee-jerk reaction as Singapore has a high fully vaccinated population and we expect demand for our Thailand tours to remain unaffected,” he said.

Retail worker Jasmine Lim, 24, said the rules will not deter her from going to Thailand.

She said: “My friends and I were thinking of taking a short trip to Phuket before Chinese New Year.

“I don’t think the rules change anything. It just means we have to now show our vaccination cards.”

Another holidaymaker, fully vaccinated 28-year-old nurse Sophie D’cruz, said she was relieved entry rules into Thailand got tightened.

She said: “I understand everyone wants to return to normalcy and not have such regulations in place, especially when it has been three years.

“But I tested positive for Covid-19 three times in the past 1½ years, even after taking precautions, like always wearing a mask outside, and carrying hand sanitiser around. So, this feels safer for travel.”

Not all Singaporeans, however, were happy about the new rules to enter Thailand.

Mr Mark, who wanted to be known only by his first name, said: “It is pretty annoying that such regulations are put in place so quickly, without any warning.”

The 23-year-old full-time tutor said he was planning to take a trip to Thailand some time in 2023 with his grandfather, who is not vaccinated. He declined to give further details.

He said: “I hope the rules do not remain longer than Jan 31. I am really looking forward to spending time on holiday with my grandpa.”

Ms D’cruz, however, said she hopes more countries near Singapore will adopt tighter travel restrictions again, if that will help prevent the Covid-19 spikes that occur every few months in Singapore.

She said: “I wouldn’t mind if the restrictions were in place for at least two more years, even though the situation is not as bad as it was a few years ago.

“With China is opening up its borders, it would not be the worst decision.”

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