Surin Suriyawong, Sadao district chief, said this was the first group to enter the country via the Sadao crossing since it was closed in early 2020 due to Covid-19.
The other border checkpoint to be opened in the South on Friday was Wang Prachan in Satun province. These checkpoints were opened as part of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) pilot project that allows foreigners to enter via land through the Thailand Pass system.
Surin said the 107 to cross via Sadao were Thai and Malaysian businesspeople who had registered on the Thailand Pass website.
This checkpoint has been closed to foreigners for the past two years, allowing only a handful of Thais to cross over from Malaysia on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The arrival of the first group coincided with Malaysia’s announcement of Covid as endemic disease on April 1.
However, the Sadao district chief said tourists found the border-crossing process slow because the procedures in Thailand and Malaysia were different.
On the Thai side, tourists have to take an RT-PCR test upon arrival and wait four to six hours for results by checking into an SHA Plus hotel. The district has seven hotels that meet the SHA Plus standard, Surin added.
Sofia Toh-ahlem, the owner of a foreign-exchange shop, said she opened her shop on Friday now that the border checkpoint has reopened.
“This reopening is a tangible light at the end of the tunnel and gives hope to tourism operators again,” she said. “Though there aren’t many tourists yet, I believe when Malaysia opens its borders, more will come.”
Aiyada Ujeh, president of the Haral Thai and Asean Tourism Association, said she has spoken to some 40 tourism operators in Malaysia and learned that they are waiting for Thailand to further reduce its restrictions before organising more tours in Thailand. Aiyada reckons tourists are staying away because the restrictions make travelling to Thailand expensive, and hopes the situation would improve soon.
Published : April 01, 2022
By : THE NATION