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Phuket may be chosen as test case in phased re-opening to foreign tourists



PHOTO: Syed Ahmad on Unsplash

As the Tourism Authority of Thailand considers how the country might safely re-open its borders, the Bangkok Post reports that there are tentative plans afoot to kick off the project with Phuket, possibly in October. The director-general of the Department of Health, Panpimon Wipulakorn, says Phuket’s position as a self-contained island means it would be easier to control any potential Covid-19 outbreak following re-opening.

During the peak of the initial wave of Covid-19 infections in Thailand, Phuket had the highest rate of infections in the country, per capita, mostly concentrated in the Patong and Bang Tao areas.

Meanwhile, TAT spokeswoman Thapanee Kiatphaibool says if Thailand does not open to foreign tourists during the last quarter of the year, the number of international visitors will plummet to less than 7 million for this year.

Most of those numbers were from the first 3 months of this year. During the first half of 2020, that number was 6.69 million, down 66% compared to last year. There has been some minor relief provided by domestic tourists, particularly in the recent holiday long weekend, but the effects of the pandemic are still very much evident in the travel and tourism industry. The TAT forecasts this year’s revenue to be down to 1.23 trillion baht, nearly half of last year.

The government recently announced phase 6 in the gradual re-opening of the Thai borders. This grants entry to the Kingdom to additional categories of foreigners, including film crew, medical tourists, and Thailand Elite Visa holders. This has led to an increase in the need for Alternative State Quarantine facilities, with several hotels in Bangkok and Phuket putting themselves forward for consideration. The TAT says those entering the country on flights to Phuket will be taken directly to an ASQ facility, adding that foreign travellers could be allowed in from October.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Toby Andrews

    Monday, August 3, 2020 at 11:44 am

    They really think foreigners are so eager to come to Thailand that they will pay well over the odds for a flight now, and go straight into quarantine as soon as they arrive.
    Stupid people.

  2. Perceville Smithers

    Monday, August 3, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Few people have the vacation time to quarantine in a facility for 14 days then proceed with their regular holiday/vacation. Maybe test on arrival, stay at the facility for 1-2 days then get the results within 48 hrs.Negative results allow visitors to continue on.

  3. Bobby m

    Monday, August 3, 2020 at 2:40 pm


    There are now facilities to perform a 90 min test. This could be done on arrival, and again a few days later. Also, there are now antibody and T cell tests now available with total accuracy on non negative tests.
    In other words, it can on occasion say you have NOT have Civid when you have, but if it says you have had Covid and antibodies are present, then you HAVE had it and are extremely unlikely to have it again. So how many people have had it twice,- None.

    • James DSc.

      Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 5:32 am

      The “rapid” molecular tests only test at a specific point in time. The reason why there are quarantines of up to 14 days is that in 95% of cases, it can take up to 14 days for the infection to become detectable. There are NO antibody tests that are reliable or accurate. The tests can give false results in up to 50% of patients. If these tests were that reliable they would have been made available long ago.Thailand has a vested interest in expediting entry of tourists. If the thais could wave a magic wand as you demand, they would, but they cannot so keep your imaginary testing capabilities to yourrself.

      • Bobby m

        Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at 12:34 am

        James, in response to your comment. Yes, you are totally accurate regarding the Covid incubation period, which by now I believe we are all fully aware of. I was purely pointing out the benefits of a 90 minute response. Hence the useless requirement of a test 72 hours before you fly.

        However, I Believe you are somewhat out of date regarding the antibody testing. Yes, as I clearly explained, it can give false negatives. Meaning it can in some cases say that you have NOT had Covid, when in fact you have, (erring on the side of safety).

        However, it does not give false positive’s. If the result is positive for Covid, then it has identified antibodies. This is a full blood test performed in a laboratory. Not a pin prick test. Regarding your comment about “why it is not being used”. It is, it’s being given now to all frontline staff in the U.K. and will be being rolled out to all senior citizens next.

        The only unknown, is how long the antibodies and T cells will last. But I suggest that as there has been no reports of people being infected for a second time in the last 5 months. There is a very good chance protection is in place.

        I therefore respectfully suggest, That you consider keeping your out of date opinions to yourself and consider the effect this is having on the Thai economy and people. You only have to read Thaiger regularly to see some of the extremely negative impact its having through lack of income.

        Bobby m

  4. Ejit

    Monday, August 3, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    Another wonderful idea brought to you by the comedians at the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

  5. Mike Frenchie

    Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 1:40 am

    Clearly dilutional – which tourist will accept to spend two weeks in quarantine? This is simply not going to happen, Phuket is doomed… a likely -60% GDP (for Phuket) year on year if nothing serious is organised.

  6. Karen

    Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Tourists agreeing to a two week quarantine is simply not going to happen. The two week quarantine idea is failing all over the world.

  7. Peter lemm

    Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Who is going to pay an inflated price to sit in a hotel for two weeks if they are a normal tourist on their 2-3 week holiday. Delusional as usual.

  8. Simon

    Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    No one wants to come to Thailand that badly. Even if they did, it would be the last time – with no bars open and no girls!

    To add insult to injury, hotels and restaurants are price-gouging tourists.

    Goodbye Thailand

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