Hotel operators in Thailand have urged the government to cancel the current Covid-19-quarantine rules for vaccinated visitors in a bid to revive the country’s tourism industry.

With international tourist arrivals falling from a record 40 million in 2019 to 6.8 million in 2020, two leading hotel groups emphasised their support to scrap the 14-day compulsory quarantine for non-Thai tourists who had their vaccination papers to prove they were safe, reported Financial Times.

Thailand’s largest listed hotel and hospitality group Minor International’s chairman William Heinecke told the publication: “We should be very quickly allowing people who are safely vaccinated to travel without quarantine. There are tremendous numbers of people who won’t come to Thailand, or won’t come to any country that has a quarantine, because it takes too much time.

“Even if we haven’t vaccinated our population yet, we need to somehow allow safe travellers in who have been vaccinated.”

Thailand’s tourism industry is the second-largest in the country and accounts for about 20% of its GDP. Most foreign tourists have not been allowed into Thailand since last March after its borders were sealed and strict testing and quarantine requirements imposed to those seeking entrance.

Bangkok-based hotel group Dusit International CEO Suphajee Suthumpun was quoted by the financial publication as saying: “The current quarantine restrictions are crippling our industry and having a massive impact on Thailand’s economy. With foreign tourists accounting for around 70% of the total industry, and with tourism representing around 22% of GDP, it’s clear that we need to open the borders to vaccinated travellers as soon as possible.”

Suthumpun also called for employees in the country’s hospitality sector to be given vaccination priority, which would protect both locals and visitors while limiting infection risk.

Although government subsidies for Thai hotel stays compensate for some of the losses to the tourism industry, the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically affected some of Thailand’s best-known attractions.

Thailand has reported 13,000 Covid-19 cases and 71 deaths so far.