The Phuket Sandbox is slowly bringing international travellers back to Thailand, and while it’s had a few problems, signs indicate that confidence is growing in the scheme. With El Al, Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways bringing in flights from the Middle East, Singapore Airlines connecting people in Southeast Asia, and Thai Airways operating 5 flights from Europe, international flights are trickling into Phuket International Airport. But now, 33 more airlines are reported to have requested to fly into Phuket in the coming months.
In a press conference at Phuket Provincial Hall on Tuesday, the Phuket International Airport Deputy Manager mentioned the demand for flight slots for international airlines. He said that 10 airlines have requested permission to operate flights in and out of Phuket in July. Then in August, an additional 17 airlines have filed requests to run flight schedules through Phuket.
Aside from the 27 airlines hoping to land planes in Phuket in the next 2 months, 6 more have filed intensions to begin servicing Phuket in the 2 months after that, commencing service by October. KLM had previously announced flights beginning in October as well.
Officials did not elaborate on the statement or give any details or hints about the identity of the 33 airlines that may be flying into Phuket soon. They also did not confirm what countries or regions the airlines are based or will be flying from.
The Deputy Manager mentioned that about 14,000 international travellers have already booked flight tickets to Phuket on international airlines between now and the end of October. He expressed hope for the return of tourism but made clear that it will be a long road back to tourism normalcy for Phuket and Thailand.
“We do not anticipate number returning to the pre-pandemic figures anytime soon due to the ongoing battle with and impact of COVID in countries all over the world.”
That said, a representative for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentioned that now over 13,000 people have applied for a Certificate of Entry to travel to Thailand. 4,068 had been approved as of that meeting, with 2,132 people having already arrived in Phuket.
Still, with the first international Sandbox Covid-19 infection being identified yesterday and Thailand seeing record numbers of infections throughout the country each day, surpassing 7,000 infections today, the fate of the Phuket Sandbox, and Thai tourism in general, is hanging in the balance and dependent on Thailand’s ability to contain and control the pandemic.
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SOURCE: The Phuket News
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