Phuket wants Chinese tourists to jump – start its sandbox scheme which will let vaccinated international visitors enter the Andaman island without undergoing quarantine as of July 1. The targetting of Chinese visitors comes after data revealed that they contributed to 1/5 of the pre-Covid economy.
The move to allow tourists to enter without undergoing quarantine is important as officials say the sandbox model’s success could lead to more areas in Thailand such as Samui Island, Krabi, Pattaya and Chiang Mai in October. Vichit Prakobgosol, vice president of the Tourism Council of Thailand says before the pandemic, Phuket saw 90% of its economy composed of tourism. Besides China, the government is focused on tourists from Russia, the UK, France, Germany, US, and Sweden.
“It’s good that the majority of countries with high numbers of vaccinations are the main markets for Thai tourism. The focus for the government should now be to finalise agreements and vaccine passports with various countries to allow visitors to return without having to quarantine.”
Phuket is now aiming to administer around 12,000 vaccine doses per day, after its sandbox scheme was approved, pending the achievement of a herd immunity on the island. That type of immunity requires at least 70% of locals to be inoculated before tourists can come in July. Island officials say they are planning to roll out 930,000 doses by June, just in time for the reopening.
Thailand overall has lost about 1.45 million tourism jobs to the Covid pandemic, as tourism accounts for 11-12% of the country’s gross domestic product. Before the pandemic, there were about 4.5 million tourism jobs, with the tourism industry being comprised of around 38 million people.
The government in recent months has pledge to continue its co-payment scheme, to aid domestic tourists in helping the industry survive until international travellers can enter Thailand without undergoing quarantine. Recently, officials admitted that other nations will capture more tourists if they are offering quarantine – free arrivals, making it even more important for Thailand to follow suit.
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