Connect with us

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Pushback from local associations over the Thai government’s “Phuket Model”




UPDATE: Amidst the “plans” and “models” being proposed by the government to re-open Thailand to some form of general tourism (nothing confirmed yet), there’s also been some pushback from operators in some of the hardest hit areas.

The government had proposed the Phuket Model as a way of kicking off tourism from early October. But the model involves a mandatory 14 day quarantine, another 7 days on the island and then tourists able to travel beyond. The limited flights, 14 day quarantine, expensive “registered” hotels and testing regime were seen to be impediments to possible success.

(New information) Under the proposal for the trial, the Thailand Longstay Company, a private company where the Tourism Authority of Thailand has a 30% stake, would provide assistance with visa applications and purchase of insurance for tourists (likely only Thai insurance companies). The tourists would be required to undergo a Covid-19 test 48 hours before their departure for Phuket and they would be tested again when they arrive.

Officials have estimated that 100,000 tourists could take advantage of the “model”. It was then extrapolated that the “Phuket Model” would be rolled out to other parts of the country, principally Koh Samui, Pattaya and 3 other destinations, also badly effected by the lack of tourists,

But the government admits it is facing a few hurdles – 1 from the healthcare providers who are concerned about ramping up their facilities to cope with the testing and possible increase in cases, and secondly from the local tourist associations who say the idea is flawed to begin with.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says that… “Phuket would be a pilot area where foreign tourists are allowed to travel.”

But Sarayuth Mallum, the President of the Phuket Tourist Association, says they’ve developed their own model for the reintroduction of tourism into the island. They’ve proposed the 4Ts – Target (targeted low-risk countries), Testing (screening and testing when tourists arrive), Tracing (a mobile app to track tourists in real time) and Treatment (adequate health system conduct testing and and treat possible Covid-19 patients). Notably the 4Ts plan doesn’t involve a mandatory 14 day quarantine.

But noted that reopening Phuket “did not mean just opening the airport and letting any foreign tourists in”.

“We will allow only foreigners who used to stay in Phuket and now want to come back and those keen on staying for a long time. We intend to accept only a small group, not everyone,” he said in the Bangkok Post.

He disagreed with the Tourist Minister’s “Phuket Model”, saying that Phuket must “protect and serve local people first”.

The Mayor of Patong Chalermlak Kebsap shared the general concerns and said that places like Patong have been suffering but that there was a lot of concerns about the proposed model.

“Most of the people here are not very confident in the government’s measures. We are not sure if they will be strictly implemented but we must be open. People are having a tough time. Businesses have shut doors. We do not want a lot of money; we just want to get by and be healthy.”

She also voiced the concerns of many smaller hotels and guest houses that admitted they would be unable to participate in the program, and only the bigger hotels owned by powerful families would benefit.

The local Chamber of Commerce has also voiced its concerns saying that the locals want to implement their 4T program and disagreed with the Tourism Minister’s proposal. He believed that the first group of foreigners arriving from October should be the ones with plans to stay for a long time – foreign students, medical tourists, people with families or existing businesses.

The GM of a leading hotel group confided with The Thaiger that some sort of re-opening plan was “urgent” but that the government’s plan would not work and would only benefit a few hotels whilst adding a lot of inconvenience for the rest of the island as ‘quarantined’ tourists would be allowed to roam in a 1 kilometre radius from their registered hotel.

“Who is going to track these people? What happens to all the hotel staff, residents and other tourists that also work or wander into these 1 kilometre zones? The plan hasn’t been thought through.”

Under the current government plan proposal, foreign tourists travelling to Phuket would have to obtain permission to travel to and enter Thailand from their country’s Thai embassy with all the associated paperwork, applications and waiting times. They wouldn’t be able to simply purchase a flight online and jump on a plane.

They would have to test negative 48 or 72 hours before they travel (both times have been published in the media)and have a health insurance premium valued at least US$100,000. Then they have to find a direct flight to Phuket – at this stage there are none on offer excepting a plan from Thai Airways to re-introduce 2 flights a month from 6 destinations starting late November. The national airline is still in the middle of a generational restructure and ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.

Koh Samui, also desperate for tourists to reboot its flagging economy, has its own set of problems. Businesses, from restaurants to hotels, car rental businesses to tour operators, bars, massage services and retail shops, all report an almost 99% drop in business since the start of the year. Many hotels have not only shut their doors but shut down for ever.

But the remaining operators, desperately hanging on, say they don’t want to be left behind with all the focus on the Phuket Model.

Many of the island’s operators also bemoan the ongoing monopoly of Bangkok Airways and its strangle-hold on the air traffic into Samui, saying that international carriers should be allowed easy access to fly directly into Samui, rather than via Bangkok. They also demand Bangkok Airways stop price-gouging customers and leveraging its monopoly for profit.

At some stage all the players – the CCSA, tourism operators, hospitality representatives and associations – will have to meet and finalise a plan to co-ordinate the re-opening of general tourism into Thailand. But, with a month to go before the planned kick-off of the Phuket Model, there would be critical doubts whether decisions can be made, and then implemented, in time.

Even with these plans and limited importing of tourists, the numbers will only amount to 100s of thousands and not the millions that were once vital contributors to Thailand’s economy.


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.



  1. Avatar

    Kenneth Miller

    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 10:20 am

    glad that plans are in the works, agree that the initial plans will only benefit the larger hotels. My main concern that is not being talked about, how will the local staff be taken care of. Will they get daily tests given that there might be waves of tourists checking in daily. If the staff is positive, will they be taken care of?

    • Avatar


      Monday, August 31, 2020 at 9:54 am

      Don’t expect “waves” of tourists checking in daily. This program will only appeal to those with long term interests in Thailand. It’s important not to say things that are irrational or sensationalist.

  2. Avatar


    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 11:31 am

    All these people forget that one and only principal: The tourist choose the destination, not you choose the tourists. Put down your ego and sober. Those ridiculous plans just wont work, and become another international joke which further worsen the reputation and economy of Thailand.

    • Avatar

      Patrick Nouvel

      Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 10:50 pm

      Fully agree
      GM of boutique resort Samui

  3. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 11:51 am

    “Officials estimate a 100,000 will take advantage of the model”
    Dream on.
    They really have a big opinion of Phuket.

  4. Avatar


    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    I wonder where the estimates comes from based on this imprisonment in hotel for 14 days come from?
    or is its just pure guessing?

    • Avatar

      Patrick Nouvel

      Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 10:51 pm

      Just wrong smelling

  5. Avatar

    rinky stingpiece

    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    Protecting local people means giving them jobs so they can eat and pay their rent and bills. It’s not complicated.

    Thailand’s reputation needs serious rehabilitation, and that will take much more than these silly schemes.

  6. Avatar


    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Comments here are right on the money. It is really amazing that tourism officials, operators, and govt. could have such a poor-to-non-existent understanding of tourism.

  7. Avatar


    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    I must say that this plan proposed by the TAT will not work. It think that the local tourism association in Phuketknows this only too well. They know what foreign tourists look for and want and have been so excellent at providing memorable holidays to millions of people. The people of Phuket are so truly wonderful! I have had to watch on from my country as business after business close or go into hibernation, in the hope of coming back once international tourism returns to some kind of normal. Yes people would love to come back to Phuket. That is still true. But the conditions imposed on them, will be a decisive factor that determines wether or not they come. International tourists are looking for the path of least resistance. They are looking for somewhere without difficult conditions of entry. 14 day quarantine in designated hotels will never be conducive to tourists. The TAT needs to look at what they, if they were a tourist, would accept as reasonable given the pandemic. I don’t have Covid 19…neither does the majority of the world’s population. There are plenty of people who want holidays who don’t have the virus. So a test prior to departure and a test on arrival (with quarantine only until the test result is known) with no quarantine after that, will work…for everyone…think about it 🙂

    • Avatar

      Patrick Nouvel

      Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 10:54 pm

      Very pragmatic but Brain washing & collective paranoia are deep in the Minds here , pity

  8. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    So the Phuket Model wasn’t meant for all tourists? ‘Just for foreigners who used to stay in Phuket and want to return.’ What does that mean? I used to stay in Phuket for months at a time 4-7 yrs ago, does this qualify? Is it by invitation only?

  9. Avatar


    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Jeesus!!! I can tell she died of septic shock from here!!!

  10. Avatar


    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    People take vacations to relax and forget their worries. They travel to Thailand because it’s inexpensive and flexible. The Phuket plan is the opposite of all four of those principles. The idea it will draw 100k in visitors is dreaming. Outside of expats who can’t otherwise return to their homes and families, it’s not a plan to draw people who can choose to visit somewhere else without a quarantine and at a cheaper price. Even then those expats are not sticking to Phuket a minute longer than they need too. You almost couldn’t think up a plan more designed to reduce tourism than this one.

  11. Avatar


    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 10:04 pm

    The only people visiting will be those that already have a base here and need a way back in. Absolutely no chance in hell any fool is going to go through all those hoops for a holiday. Thai officials have absolutely zero idea of reality.

    • Avatar


      Monday, August 31, 2020 at 7:50 am

      So very true, even thinking about moving to Mexico now, Thailand too hard.

  12. Avatar

    Burt Dekre

    Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    What idiot goes to thailand to sit in expensive covid hotels and then be monitored when he / she spends his / her money in such an incredibly panicked attempt to get started on something that was already about to take place already in October 2019, very bad pressure already then tourists, probably moderately tired of all the scams, double pricing, etc. Start by offering free visas and do not think that you ksn sort out which ki want to spend in the country, pathetic so it stinks about it. Do it again and do it right. Decent, service (not in bars, massages etc) but in general because you are so dependent after all on tourists, on the contrary what the fat bud of the Minister of Health shouted out earlier, the biggest joke in the whole country, a real clown.

  13. Avatar


    Monday, August 31, 2020 at 7:33 am

    Any increase in tourists regardless of where they stay will help the Phuket economy, staff will be employed and that money finds its way back into the local economy so that’s a plus. However as has been pointed out 14 days in an executive prison will put short term tourists off, no doubt about that. So targeting the grey market (retirees ) or business people who can work remotely (software designers for example) can work. Cost effective quarantine can work for them and there will be thousands in Europe (and parts of US/Canada) who cannot get to warmer climes in Mediterranean or Mexico/Caribbean who would welcome a safe alternative which Thailand has created – there has been talk about a 9 month Visa which would be very pragmatic. In the meantime make it easier for long term residents already here to renew their visas.

  14. Avatar


    Monday, August 31, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Covid numbers – 0.3224% (1/3 of a percent) of the worlds population has contracted the virus. Of those that have the virus 3.4% have died or 0.01084% of the worlds population. This virus will NEVER go away, it will always be with us, vaccine or not. We must take normal and reasonable precautions to get the world Rt down below 1.0, currently 1.3.

    Just an observation – Every day, almost 3,700 people (0.01732% annually) are killed globally in road traffic crashes involving cars, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, or pedestrians.

  15. Avatar


    Monday, August 31, 2020 at 10:02 am

    No, the Phuket plan isn’t perfect. Yes, it will probably only appeal to long-stay tourists or retirees who have interests, family or property in Thailand. No, it won’t solve all of the problems Phuket is seeing,. But it is a first step, and that’s important,. The government needs to demonstrate that foreigners can be allowed back in without it resulting in mass infections. Yes, Thai people are way too frighted of Covid and many are not properly informed. But that’s the reality and so I think that this is a plan that should be supported, again as a first step.

    • Avatar


      Monday, August 31, 2020 at 2:12 pm

      Well said. Being well educated and informed and not falling into the hysteria trap.

  16. Avatar


    Monday, August 31, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    Ingen som gidder og betale 320 000 bath for 14 dager karantene, bare tull dette her.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 hour ago

Police investigate hackers selling stolen vaccine appointments

Chon Buri4 hours ago

Driver blames GPS for durian truck wedged under overpass

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

Despite low riders, Covid-19 train to continue

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Pattaya7 hours ago

Planning for “Pattaya Move On” reopening scheme continues

Best of8 hours ago

Top 5 cookie shops in Bangkok

Drugs8 hours ago

Marine police seize 30 kilograms of methamphetmine from squid fishing boat

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand9 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Bars defy bans, Sandbox ‘still on’, vaccine rush | July 28

Thailand10 hours ago

Thailand to apply for Guinness World Record for longest petrified log

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Koh Samui bar and club finds 16 Covid-19 infections

Best of12 hours ago

Kanchanaburi’s 5 coolest hotels

Thailand12 hours ago

Thousands of inmates granted royal pardon on HM the King’s birthday

Coronavirus (Covid-19)12 hours ago

Wednesday Covid Update: 16,533 new cases; provincial totals

Best of13 hours ago

5 of the most amazing hotels in Koh Chang

Best of13 hours ago

The best steakhouses in Pattaya serving juicy steak

Coronavirus (Covid-19)15 hours ago

Girls infected with Covid after mother dies at home; public criticises healthcare system

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8