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Thailand moved a step closer to issuing vaccine certificates, with a panel of officials backing the proposal seen as a major milestone toward allowing the tourism-reliant nation to fully reopen to foreign visitors.

The Health Ministry will issue documents to residents who have completed their Covid-19 vaccinations that will allow them to travel abroad, according to Deputy Premier and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. Thailand also plans to reduce the mandatory quarantine period for vaccinated foreign visitors to seven days from 14 days currently, he said, adding the proposals are expected to be approved by a national committee later this month.

The vaccine passport plan is the strongest signal yet from Thai authorities of their intent to reopen the borders more widely to tourists. The so-called vaccine passport holders may get a complete waiver from quarantine on arrival from October, according to Anutin. A successful reopening by Thailand could spur other tourism-reliant nations to follow suit, as countries like the U.K. set out ambitious timelines for easing restrictions.

Tourism Reliance

Thailand has grown more reliant on foreign visitors in the past decade

Sources: Ministry of Tourism & Sports, National Economic and Social Development Council

Thailand is betting on a revival in tourism, which accounted for about a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product pre-pandemic, to return Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy to growth. The local tourism industry has called for mandatory quarantines to be lifted from as early as July 1 so it can open to potentially millions of vaccinated visitors.