Foreign travellers to Phuket can enjoy their stays free from quarantine restrictions starting July 1. Today, the infectious disease committee approved the plan to allow foreign tourists to skip quarantines on the premises that local Phuket residents will be inoculated before then, as part of plans to achieve a herd immunity. The plan was supposed to be originally submitted this Friday to the Centre for Economic Situation Administration for approval, but was unexpectedly approved earlier.
Yuthasak Supasorn, the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, says the new “Sandbox” scheme, which would allow visitors to skip quarantine, could only be successful if 70% of the local population was vaccinated before lettting in tourists. Deputy governor Pichet Panapong says they have over 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines ready to inoculate the local population.
“Phuket has been without any new Covid-19 cases for 89 days… There is in urgent need for foreign tourists here, to stimulate the economy and tourism sector. Before, a local resident earned about 40,000 baht per month on average. In February this fell to about 8,000 baht. Without some change, this will fall to 1,964 baht in July, which is below the poverty line.”
Pichet says a survey revealed that foreigners are interested in visiting Phuket but without undergoing quarantines. He says those foreigners who visit without undergoing quarantine, will be tracked using the Covid-19 tracing mobile app.
Such hoops that travellers may jump through under the Sandbox plan include showing a vaccine certificate, vaccine passport or IATA travel pass, a PCR test at the airport and activation of the ThailandPlus tracing application while in Phuket.
Koh Samui is also following Phuket in pushing for foreign travellers to skip quarantine requirements. The island is expected to be the first area in Surat Thani to test such quarantine-free entries for tourists as it features its own airport. Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, the president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, says he is hopeful that Samui will join other worldwide destinations in recapturing tourists.
“Koh Samui wants to grab tourist demand as there are many destinations globally that require no quarantine.”
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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