Phuket pushes to open doors to vaccinated international tourists by October

Phuket is set to open its doors to vaccinated, international tourists by October, pending the government’s approval. The local government’s initiative, named Phuket First October, proposes vaccinating a majority of its population over 18 years of age in time for the high season. The move would allow thousands of vaccinated Europeans to enter Thailand, while locals would be protected from the virus symptoms.

Protecting the locals would include achieving herd immunity in time for reopening the province, which would need 70% of the population to be vaccinated. The local government’s goal would not wait for the government to roll out vaccines, and instead, use its own resources to vaccinate the public. Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association told the Thai Enquirer over the phone, that they won’t stop pushing for ways to help the tourist destination survive.

“I think there must be a solution that balances controlling the outbreak and stimulating the economy.”

The island is also looking to waive the 14 day quarantine, with PM Prayut recently changing his stance by announcing that a quarantine waiver is being considered for those vaccinated tourists.

But the plan must be approved by the national government by April, if the province wants to open tourism by October 1. Initial research shows that around 250,000 citizens per month must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

Initially, the province’s request was denied by the federal government, but business leaders are not giving up hope. Recently, they submitted a petition to PM Prayut to appeal the denial citing lack of income, mounting debts and increasing financial disputes due to over eight months without international or domestic flights.

The second wave has also plummeted tourism even lower than before, as the industry has seen a 93% drop in visitors since the same time last year.

Phuket has already kicked off its vaccine rollout as of yesterday, after receiving a delivery of 4,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac jab. Priority is being given to 1,500 healthcare workers and 500 “at-risk” officials that have been exposed to Covid-19 patients.

SOURCE: Thai Enquirer

Phuket NewsTourism News

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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