Thailand and India have been negotiating about establishing an air travel bubble and the Thai Government has just approved this measure effective March 1, 2022 (yesterday).
It’s unclear what this travel bubble will actually mean in terms of practical benefits for the individual traveler contrary to the existing framework of Test&Go and the Sandbox system.
Several countries have tried to maintain travel bubbles but pretty much all of them have burst due to the sensitivity of policies surrounding these bubbles, shutting them down as soon as a small cluster of Covid cases popped up somewhere. Something like this is destined to fail from the beginning.
The Thai cabinet has now decided that engaging India with the travel bubble would stimulate the reeling and once again (in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis) contracting tourism sector by engaging India and they approved the travel bubble.
Credentials were presented to the Indian Government by the Royal Thai Embassy in New Delhi today.
These are the official documents:
All these documents only list the framework but I have yet to see what this air travel bubble is trying to accomplish in terms of easing the process and stimulating more tourism traffic.
Indian nationals are already allowed to enter Thailand under the Test&Go scheme as well as the Sandbox options so what exactly is this?
Would a travel bubble mean that arrivals from India don’t need on-arrival or pre-departure testing anymore? That could be a decision that would come back to haunt the government. Does anyone remember all the passengers ex India who presented a negative test result before flying to Hong Kong, only to be tested positive upon arrival? This ultimately lead to Air India being banned from flying to Hong Kong for an extended period.
Not sure how much trust is warranted that India is providing reliable Covid testing to the passengers departing from the country. I have two friends who just came back from Delhi and they were asked if they only need a negative certificate or if they actually want to have a real test done. Obviously it would be pretty stupid to get a fake test when flying to Thailand where on arrival tests are mandatory and consequences could be 10 days expensive quarantine.
IF the definition of a travel bubble means that testing will be abandoned then that would open the doors to all kinds of fraud and risk. I don’t believe this is going to happen.
A travel bubble will be established between Thailand and India this month, though it’s unclear what exactly this will entail for travelers as far as actual travel benefits are concerned. I’m sure there will be more details in the coming weeks to showcase how exactly this is going to change anything as far as attracting Indian travelers is concerned.
There needs to be some benefit beyond the currently available mechanisms. I’d really like to see what these are especially as Thailand is currently considering more of these “bubbles” with other countries that are usually important for their tourism.