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

Tim Newton

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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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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 41 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented over 10,000 radio news bulletins, 3,900 in Thailand alone, hosted 650 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. As founder of The Thaiger, Tim now acts as the Content Manager and head-writer, whilst supervising the growth of the YouTube channel. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand.

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