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Government insists Phuket re-opening will go ahead as planned

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Flickr / jeiline

The Thai government is adamant the planned re-opening of the southern island of Phuket to vaccinated foreign tourists will go ahead. However, with Covid-19 infections rising across the country, some tourism operators say they need more clarification on how. Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit insists the “Phuket sandbox” model is on track for July 1.

“We have neither cancelled nor changed it (the plan to reopen Phuket on July 1). Currently the province is on course to speed up its vaccination programme as its inhabitants prepare to reopen and receive foreign tourists. The Phuket vaccination programme has made much progress as around 100,000 doses have now been given to people. We can meet the target.”

According to a Bangkok Post report, tourism operators in Phuket are calling on the government to clarify how the plan will work, with only 2 months left to prepare. They say rules on entry requirements, travel bubbles, international flight arrangements, and vaccinations all need to be confirmed before then. Operators say it seems highly unlikely 70% of the island will be vaccinated on time, which remains a priority if the plan is to proceed.

However, the eternally optimist governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Yuthasak Supasorn, says officials are drawing up the standard operating procedures that will govern the sandbox model.

“We will submit a complete plan to the Centre for Economic Situation Administration to receive approval by the end of April, then start taking more concrete action. In the third quarter, this ‘Phuket Sandbox’ scheme should attract at least 120,000 international arrivals, generating 11 billion baht.”

Meanwhile, Phuket Tourist Association president, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, says tourism officials in the province are still committed to re-opening, but need more clarification from Bangkok.

“Vaccines are just one of many components to make a reopening successful. We still require endorsement from other related authorities such as the Public Health and Foreign Affairs ministries, particularly about whom Thailand has initiated travel agreements with. This is a crucial factor as it’s hard to bring in visitors if they are required to enter quarantine upon their return home.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar


    Monday, April 26, 2021 at 10:19 am

    People will only come if the country is open. If the rest of the country is in lockdown, forget it.

  2. Avatar


    Monday, April 26, 2021 at 10:50 am

    Why would a tourist that, after 1,5 years, finally can fly again go to rainy season Phuket?

  3. Avatar


    Monday, April 26, 2021 at 11:33 am

    Again Thais show how difficult it is for them top learn from [very close] history, i.e. let the (un-)successful Songkran speak for itself …or not

    Since the 1 of July is not even 2.5 months away, for how long will Phuket be “on course to speed up its vaccination”??

  4. Avatar


    Monday, April 26, 2021 at 11:53 am

    I’m interested in the plan, I miss Thailand. Either August or September works for me. While I’m fully vaccinated and have no problem preflight testing, I have no intention of post flight testing. I will not risk getting a false positive and getting sent off to a Thai hospital for two of my three week vacation. So that little detail is important for me to find out by say June when I will book my trip. While not a fan of Phuket, if stuck there only a week it works for me. If not, I’m headed to Europe. They are opening to vaccinate Americans this summer and seeing Europe with little to no crowds is a pretty appealing backup plan.

  5. Avatar


    Monday, April 26, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    The idea is fantastic but as the government have shown they are too bloody slow. They’ve had the AZ vaccine recipe for months now. As someone who lives and works here I would much prefer to land in rainy Phuket and have some freedom after seeing family than landing in rainy BKK and being locked in ASQ for 7/14 days.

  6. Avatar


    Monday, April 26, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    Typical Thai ruling elite, money is everything whilst Thai lives and health do not matter. Why are the people of Phuket being given vaccine priority over the elderly Thai population, Healthcare staff and care workers….because making money from tourists is the priority. Why have the rich elite, government officials, police and military been vaccinated before the elderly Thai population, Healthcare staff and care workers….because in the eyes of this military junta the average Thai is irrelevant. Where is the vaccine roll out plan…. there isn’t one because they have failed so miserably in the management of the virus and vaccine procurement they do not have any idea of what, when and how many doses of vaccine then can actually get delivered in to Thailand.

  7. Avatar


    Monday, April 26, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    Wishful thinking..

  8. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Monday, April 26, 2021 at 7:38 pm

    @EdwardV – I am glad someone else sees the danger of as a false test of positive, followed by a lucrative 14 days in hospital for the Thais.
    I keep posting this danger but am ignored.
    Be aware, this is Thailand. There are no limits for Thai scamming tourists. No scam is too foul!
    A false test of ferang positive for covid 19, and they will make a fortune out of an unneeded quarantine in a vastly overpriced hotel.

  9. Avatar

    Night Rider

    Monday, April 26, 2021 at 8:45 pm

    16 German tourists reportedly arrived in Phuket some two weeks ago. Did they have a good time? I’m waiting for Thailand to open before I come.

  10. Avatar


    Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 12:17 am

    Just now, the government is talking about requiring all tourists, even vaccinated to do the full 14 day quarantine (in your room the whole time) so this is nonsense.

  11. Avatar

    Northern Scott

    Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 7:39 am

    The Phuket sandbox plan in July will be acceptable for me. I am looking forward to the details, hope they draft the details pronto;I wish to find a good jetfare rate soon. The Tourism Authority and hotels will have my business in July if they can do so. Looking forward to the beaches and cuisine.

  12. Avatar

    Henry Ford

    Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 10:09 am

    I have cancelled my June holiday to Phuket. Just not risking a (false) positive test upon arrival and spending 14 days in a hostel, at my expense. When i can travel freely i will come.

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