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16 German tourists kick off Phuket’s tentative re-opening plans

Tim Newton

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16 German tourists kick off Phuket’s tentative re-opening plans | Thaiger

3 months away and Phuket will be Thailand’s first province to waive the mandatory quarantine stay for foreign travellers who have been vaccinated. Well, that remains the plan as Thailand starts to work through a 4-phase re-opening schedule which will take the rest of 2021 to roll out.

The subjects of these re-opening experiments will be the expected tourists who, despite having the best of intentions to visit Thailand have to march through changing rules, red tape, PCR tests, compulsory insurance and vaccination certificates.

The Phuket Tourist Association reports that visitors from 28 countries say they intend to visit the southern island after the pilot sandbox scheme was approved by the government. But there are still barriers to be removed including permission from their origin countries and 70%+ of Phuketians being vaccinated before the plan can proceed. Bangkok Post reports that some of those countries include China, Singapore, Russia, the UK and Germany. Even with those countries there are restrictions for outbound or inbound travel at this stage which will complicate any travel schedules.

Yesterday a Thai Airways flight arrived from Germany’s Frankfurt airport. It first touched down at Suvarnabhumi airport, carrying 130 German tourists. 16 of them continued on to Phuket, a modest start for Phuket’s international tourist revival.

The next flight fro Frankfurt to Phuket, via Bangkok, will be on May 7 on another Thai Airways flight. Both flights are being flown in an Airbus A350.

The Phuket Tourist Association estimate that 150,000 foreign visitors could visit the island from July to September this year. In the years before the Covid lockdowns and border closures, Phuket would routinely receive 800,000 – 1 million tourists each month, the second most poplar destination for international tourists in Thailand outside of Bangkok.

At the moment the majority of Phuket’s hotels and more than 80% of businesses along the popular west coast remain closed. But many of the larger hotel groups and tourist groups are pushing to get their staff vaccinated in preparedness for the July, 2021 re-opening plans.

The Phuket wet season is just beginning and will run its course through to December. The big hope is that all these tentative plans and arrangements will put the island in a good position for this year’s tourist high season which usually starts in November.

According to the CCSA, the southern province has to vaccinate at least 70% of its population (estimated at 460,000 people) before the government will approve the plan to re-open. Nearly 1 million doses of vaccines will be needed to reach that number. Even with the flurry of vaccinations across the island this week the island is unlikely to reach this goal. Surveys among many Thais indicate a residual resistance to getting the vaccine. Phuket’s expat population of approximately 20,000 are also unsure when they will be vaccinated despite the government insisting that they will be included in the roll-out.

Meanwhile, Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says the government is hoping to complete its vaccination program to target and at-risk groups in 77 provinces around Thailand by the end of April.

“800,000 doses manufactured by China’s Sinovac will be distributed to target populations in the provinces.”

SOURCES: The Straits Times |Phuket News | Bangkok Post

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 11:58 am

    16 out of a 130 go on to Phuket. That is no reason for Phuket to celebrate.
    It is humiliating for Phuket.
    By the way. I see they flew in on Thai Airways. I hope they will be able to fly home.

  2. Avatar

    AC

    Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    Sixteen german tourists in Puket, is manna falling from the sky ?

  3. Avatar

    Mr cynic

    Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Thai operate a very long domestic sector with the grand total of 16 pax on it.wonder why they are losing money?

  4. Avatar

    Heinz

    Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    Opening July 1st after 70% vaccinated impossible! Youngsters up to 18 are not vaccinated, old ones aged 65 and over only with Astrazeneca from June, second vaccination after three months … then it is September, an additional approx. 20% cannot be vaccinated … 50% are not possible as of July 1st! Please forget the sandbox!

  5. Avatar

    Night Rider

    Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    I’ll be vaccinated in May. If Finnair flies to Phuket from Helsinki next season, I intend to take a holiday there after New Year’s. Provided everything goes well, of course, and tourists are welcome in Phuket.

  6. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    150K for July through September isn’t much regardless of how you frame it. I realistic projection I would say. As pointed out a lot will depend on restrictions in place at home countries. Some like China might still restrict travel. Some will demand quarantine upon return. Still it will be a good test before a wider opening. I’m still interested in the finer details like testing requirements to travel outside of Phuket. Do you have to be in Phuket a full 7 days before testing? Which turns into about 9-10 days before leaving. Not a big fan of Phuket to begin with, it will effect whether I visit before or after October 1.

  7. Avatar

    Gosport

    Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    Germany? they don’t even have vaccine, not to be vaccinated.

  8. Avatar

    Roger Bruce

    Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    When will Thailand realize tourism, as it was, is just a dream
    Maybe in 2-5 years will be back to normal (Go to the provinces and Pan for Gold !!! some Small Families making 1500 Baht a day 1 gram of Gold )
    I will point out that my research on the Chinese Vaccine is not good it is really only an emergency vaccine when nothing else available
    But it is from China …Say no More
    Australia has Astra… As do some in Thailand ..My wife had her first Jab Bangkok with this Vaccine it is not bad but the best is USA Vaccine ( M….?) but at $33 USA a jab this is just a dream for most countries but at 95% effective to Astra…say 60-90% at $4 USA CAN SEE WHY

    Good Luck Thailand

  9. Avatar

    John

    Monday, April 5, 2021 at 7:45 am

    I am a Pattaya resident who will be on holiday in Phuket after Songkran.
    Is there a list of hotels that are “hosting” these (German) tourists for their 7 day quarantine?

  10. Avatar

    Wayno

    Monday, April 5, 2021 at 7:48 am

    ??? That is some proper babble there Rodger

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Education

Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation”

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Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Student protests led to one student not graduating due to being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”

After participating in protests for student’s rights, a Phuket student was barred from graduating 9th grade, moving from middle school to high school, charged with being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”. The student had advocated against mandatory uniforms and for student’s liberties. He told reporters that the school started paying attention to his actions last year when he participated in rallies in solidarity with students across Thailand. The school’s student affairs office received a copy of posts he made on social media encouraging others to join the cause. The school ordered a stop to his political actions, but he and his friends disregarded warnings and violated school rules when they handed out white ribbons to classmates. They received a warning from the student affairs office.

Student protests have increased after pro-democracy demonstrations surged in July last year, empowering many Thai people to speak out against injustices, including students’ rights and liberties. People from schools across the nation have been banding together in solidarity to bring their issues to public light.

On graduation day, all the students were promoted into high school, except for the one student protestor, says the Bad Student protest group. The theme of the day focused on dedication to the monarchy, country and religion, and specifically how students should be obedient. The student said he has received support from friends, but his parents remain neutral and his teachers have been completely silent on the matter. He is frustrated that he was punished for his right to express himself. He plans on testing with incoming students to re-enrol in the same school, and if he is not accepted because of the disloyalty charge, he will pursue legal ramifications, suing the school for blocking his right to an education over the student’s protests.

The student believes he needs to speak out to prevent school administrators from imposing on more students’ rights. He advocates for diversity in schools and ending prejudices, with increased liberties and freedoms for students.

“Schools must teach children to be able to think by themselves, not force children to think like them. Schools should create opportunities for students to express their ideas more freely.”

SOURCE: Prachatai

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket

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16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket | Thaiger
iTrip.com

Phuket is reporting 16 more infections today. It follows visits from Bangkok and last weekend’s Kolour Beachside parties that have resulted in a number of new Covid infections. The number of new infections has reached 26. But deputy governor Vikrom Jakthee says the province has been successful in containing the new outbreak “due to its quick response measures which now include shuttering bars and nightlife venues.

One of the confirmed cases is a male teacher from Headstart International School in Kathu who, after attending the parties on the weekend, was back teaching students on Monday and Tuesday. The school has sent a letter to all parents advising them of the situation and organising testing for anyone who may have come in contact with the teacher.

The closure order in Phuket comes just as the island province was expecting to get an influx of visitors for Songkran, the Thai New Year. Many bar and club owners were expecting some increased traffic during the holiday week. Phuket officials say they will explain to bar and club owners why they decided to close the venues during the critical week for business.

Vikrom previously cited the start of the island’s Covid vaccine roll-out of Covid starting to head towards a herd immunity in time for the province’s proposed July reopening to international tourists. But he admitted that the sudden appearance of the coronavirus on the island again will force officials to reevaluate the schedule for reopening. He also said that almost all cases were in younger age groups of people in their 20s and 30s.

“Today, the number of infected people reported in Phuket has reached 26, many are from entertainment venues. This figure is relatively high. It jumped from 10 to 26 cases. We will invite operators of entertainment places in for discussions.”

Partygoers who went to any of the Kolour Beachside parties in Phuket last weekend are being asked to visit a local hospital for a Covid test. The parties hosted more than 3,000 people, drawing concern after a musician tested positive for Covid-19, having attended all 3 parties. The Phuket Provincial Government and Phuket Provincial Public Health Office released a statement yesterday advising all partygoers to get tested.

“Those who attended the Kolour parties from April 2 to 3 at Shelter Phuket Dance & Night Club in Patong, Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala and Illuzion nightclub on Bangla Road in Patong are asked to get tested.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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