By Stacey Leasca
May 8, 2021
TRAVEL AGENCIES ARE STARTING TO GET CREATIVE when it comes to their post-pandemic business plans. Need proof? Just look to a few agencies in Thailand that are now selling “vaccine tours” to the United States.
According to Reuters, the Bangkok-based tour operator Unithai Trip has created a “vaccine tour” for its clientele who are eager to get their COVID-19 vaccines prior to their own nation’s vaccine rollout, which is set to start in June. The tours, which stop in either San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York, cost between Bt75,000 and Bt200,000 (US$2,400 and US$6,400). The prices fluctuate depending on the length between doses, Reuters reported.
“All tour agencies are suffering now,” Rachphol Yamsaeng, the tour company’s owner, said in a statement to Reuters. “Whatever we can do, we have to try to do it.”
And Unithai Trip isn’t alone. According to the news agency, the group My Journey Travel is also offering a 10-day trip to San Francisco for a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And, Udachi, another agency, is currently advertising a 23-day “VACCation in Russia” to receive its Sputnik V vaccine.
Tourists flocking to the U.S. for a chance at the vaccine isn’t uniquely a trend in Thailand either. According to reports, Canadians and Latin Americans have been traveling to the States for weeks to obtain their doses due to either slow vaccine rollouts or vaccine distribution inequality. Luckily for tourists, some states in the U.S. are advertising this vaccine tourism as a welcome service.
As Travel + Leisure previously reported, Alaska will start handing out vaccines to tourists at its airports starting June 1.
“What we want to do is make sure that our fantastic tourist industry — including the cruise ships, including our hospitality in our ancillary businesses — have an opportunity to get back to where they were,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a statement. “The idea is if we have excess vaccines, why not use them? So what we’re saying to our tourists is… if you come to Alaska, you get a free vaccination if you want one.”
The one thing international vaccine tourists should be wary of when traveling to other states in the U.S. for their shot is that nothing is guaranteed.
“If you have a visa or are allowed to legally visit the U.S. then, yes, it is legal but there is no guarantee that you will get the shot,” Visa Place explains on its site alongside a list of state-by-state vaccine restrictions. “There is nothing in place by the government that can promise you a Covid-19 vaccine shot. If you are traveling to the U.S. for a shot you will have to know that you may not get it.”
There are also the quarantine requirements upon returning to your home country to consider. In Thailand, for example, the mandatory quarantine period for all new international arrivals was just reset at 14 days as of May 1 to try to ward off variant strains of the virus.