Phuket welcomes travelers

Thailand Reopens Phuket for Vaccinated Travelers

Following the launch of #OpenThailandSafely campaign in March, the Thai government announced the restart of tourism in the kingdom.

Thailand will waive quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors arriving on the resort island of Phuket from July 1.

The announcement came from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at an economic panel held last week. The final approval should be announced by the Thai Cabinet on Tuesday, 31 March.

Starting in April, the country also is shortening the quarantine period for arrivals from abroad to 10 days from 14.

Thanusak Phungdet, president of the Phuket Chamber of Commerce, said tourism is the primary source of income for Phuket. Before Covid-19 hit the country, about 70,000-80,000 foreign tourists arrived in Phuket each day. Currently, there are only about 10,000 visitors, most of whom are Thais. In order to vaccinate 70% of the population before foreign visitors are allowed in by July 1, we need to procure more vaccines and Phuket residents must cooperate by receiving the vaccine.

“We expect about 100,000 foreign tourists to arrive in Phuket in the next five months. With the reopening to foreign tourists, income may increase by only 20-30%, but this will also boost the national tourism industry because the foreign tourists in Phuket may also visit other provinces,” he said, according to Bangkok Post.

Under the plan, tourists who want to join the proposed quarantine-free programme are required to show a vaccine certificate, a vaccine passport or an International Air Transport Association (IATA) travel pass.

Travelers should also check if they need to apply for an e-visa.

The Centre for Economic Situation Administration on Friday approved a three-stage roadmap to reopen six major tourism provinces — Phuket, Krabi, Phangnga, Surat Thani (Koh Samui), Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai — to vaccinated foreign visitors.

From April to June, inoculated foreign visitors arriving in these provinces will only be required to undergo quarantine in hotels or other designated facilities for seven days.

From July to September, vaccinated tourists can visit Phuket without having to undergo quarantine thanks to the so-called “Phuket Tourism Sandbox” programme, which is touted as a model for the reopening of the kingdom’s tourism industry.

Despite the quarantine waiver, the travel activities of tourists will still nonetheless be restricted to “sealed routes” in Phuket for seven days before they are allowed to visit other locations in Thailand.

Tourists will still be required to use contact tracing apps during their stay in the kingdom.

According to the Bank of Thailand and official sources in Thailand, tourism, pre-Covid, was worth about 2.9 trillion baht (US$96.5 billion). Some 39.7 million international visitors in 2019 helped sustain up to 8.3 million jobs. However, arrivals fell to 6.7 million in 2020 making between two and four million people unemployed.

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