From July 1, tourists will be able to visit Phuket without quarantine for the first time since March 2020.
In the much-discussed “sandbox” flight scheme in Thailand, its largest islands have been reopened for vaccinated travelers who are ready to follow laundry rules designed to safely restart tourism in a pandemic.
The plan is linked to a coordinated vaccination initiative aimed at vaccinating 70 percent of Phuket’s population, a goal local authorities said earlier this month that 74 percent of the population had been vaccinated.
Local media questioned the figure, which is in contrast to Thailand’s nationwide vaccination rate of about 4%. But confirmed Covid cases have plummeted in Phuket. One-room diurnal cases were reported on the island this week, while Thailand reported 5,406 cases on June 27.
The Sandbox plan will turn Phuket into a test site for the protocols to be introduced this year to other parts of Thailand and possibly other destinations in Southeast Asia.
But Phuket, like most of Southeast Asia, does not facilitate the entry of tourists.
According to the Thai Tourism Administration (TAT), in order not to quarantine Phuket, guests must show:
- Certificate of vaccination with A. A vaccine approved by the World Health Organizationor Thai health authorities, administered at least 14 days prior to arrival; accompanying children are allowed
- Negative RT-PCR test (taken within 72 hours of departure)
- A health insurance policy of at least $ 100,000 covering the accommodation
- A confirmation called A Certificate of entry to enter
- Proof of payment for 14 nights accommodation and required Kovid tests, or less than two weeks, travelers must show approved flights outside of Thailand.
- Evidence that travelers have spent the past 21 days in a low-risk or medium-risk country The list is mainly in Thai On the website of the Thai Disease Control Department
Select countries and regions from the list of Thailand
Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates Britain, United States
Source: TAT; updated June 29; The list is not exhaustive
Upon arrival, travelers must undergo a medical examination and download a monitoring program called ThailandPlus. They also have to take and pay for the Covid-19 test and wait for the results at their hotels. Additional tests are required on days 6 or 7 of travel and for those longer on days 12 or 13 more.
Those who pass the negative tests can travel freely around Phuket and other parts of Thailand after 14 days if they have to walk a social distance, check the temperature and wear a mask, according to the travel agency’s website.
Masks are required in public places, like the beachand in cars.
Officials advise tourists to use SHA + restaurants and taxis in Phuket, but do not require it.
Pakin Songmor | Lahza | Getty Images
Tourists must pay in advance and stay within them SHA + certified hotels or apartments This means that they have complied with safety and health administration measures and vaccinated more than 70% of employees.
Anyone who receives a positive result from the test will be “sent to designated health facilities for treatment at their own expense,” according to the TAT website.
With nearly 11 million visitors, Phuket ranked 15th among the most visited cities in the world in 2019, according to a report by consulting firm Euromonitor International called “Top 100 City Addresses”.
Located between Mumbai (№ 14) and Rome (№ 16), the island and its estimated 420,000 inhabitants hit the list higher than their weight, which includes international travelers but not local visitors, day travelers and cruisers. hunters are not taken into account.
Despite the island’s popularity, the reopening of Phuket the sound is expected to be muted. The kovid epidemic that erupted in Thailand in the spring, along with scheduling, changing rules and last week’s government approval of the “sandbox” scheme, could have deterred summer tourists, who have come up with other plans to date.
Among the countries returning for summer travel, there is a preference for domestic travel and aversion to flight, especially for long-haul flights to Thailand from the United States or Europe.
Neighbors of Thailand also do not take their bags. Strict quarantines and sluggish vaccination campaigns have eroded summer tourism prospects, but tourism in Southeast Asia, which has ended, has not been seriously revived.
Unvaccinated tourists can visit Phuket, but they must be quarantined for 14 nights at designated hotels.
Pone Pluck | Lahza | Getty Images
This is not good news for Thailand, as according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, in 2019, almost 72 percent of night visitors came from Asia. About a quarter of all tourists who come to Thailand come from China, which still does not allow the population to travel freely for holiday tourism.
About 1,500 people are expected to arrive in Phuket, According to the Bangkok Post, the daily average received before this pandemic will be much longer than the 25,000 tourists.
But that’s just the beginning and Thai officials hope to replicate it elsewhere soon.
Phuket is not Thailand’s only “sandbox” with its beaches and furious nightlife.
Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao Islands were approved for reopening on July 15 for vaccinated travelers under the same scheme. The cultural enclave of Chiang Mai, a city in the north of the country, may also arrive soon.
If Thailand’s sandbox scheme is successful, other countries could take similar measures, said Jade Chandhakant, regional director for Trip.com for Thailand and Vietnam.
Direct flights to Phuket are operated by British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways, according to the Thai Tourism Authority.
Pakin Songmor | Lahza | Getty Images
“The entire tourism industry is waiting for Phuket to reopen,” he said. “Hopefully, the reopening of Phuket will lead to the beginning of future ‘sandboxes’ and will be a safe way to revitalize recreational tourism in Southeast Asia.”
As for Thailand, the country may be looking to reopen regardless of the outcome. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha indicated in his June 16 speech that he was setting a goal opening the whole of Thailand by mid-October.
He said Thailand “cannot wait for everyone to be fully vaccinated with two bullets to open up the country, or for the world to be free of the virus.”
“I know this decision is a bit risky because when we open up the country, infectious diseases will increase, regardless of our precautions,” he said. “Now it’s time to take the risk we calculated.”