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

Covid-19 NewsPhuket NewsTourism News

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Maya Taylor

A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.

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