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Phuket’s ‘safe and sealed’ plan does nothing for the majority of the island’s hospitality sector

Thaiger

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Phuket’s ‘safe and sealed’ plan does nothing for the majority of the island’s hospitality sector | Thaiger

OPINION

Damned if they do and damed if they don’t. Thailand is now taking a decisive step towards reopenits its borders to tourists with a pilot project in Phuket this October. The pilot precedes the annual high-season, and if successful, then will form the basis of a wider push for re-opening the country’s borders to the lucrative tourist market.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn says there are risks, whatever they decide.

“There is a risk in the new tourism model, but if we don’t open there is a bigger risk for the economy.”

But the restrictions put on the ‘experiment’ are still considerable and Phuket tourism and hospitality players wonder just how many ‘tourists’ will be wanting to, or even able, to participate. We’ll soon know.

Firstly, you’ll need to be visiting for a minimum of 30 days. Secondly, almost half that time will be in ‘quarantine’. But the quarantine will be bigger than staring at the walls of your hotel room and will include a radius of 1 kilometre. During the mandatory 14 day quarantine, each tourist will be required to pass two Covid-19 tests. After the 14 days, tourists will be free to travel within Phuket. After another week, and another test, they’ll be allowed to travel anywhere in Thailand.

Add to this, inbound flights during the trial period starting October 1, will most probably be chartered services only, as tourists are required to register with the Foreign Ministry and jump through additional paperwork hoops before entry.

In other words, you’ll REALLY want to be coming to Phuket to have go through all this fuss.

But the TAT and Tourism Ministry are confident that Thailand will be ready to seize the long-stay market seeking a warmer climate as the northern autumn and winter kick in. By the way, Phuket’s wettest month, by far, is also October

Yuthasak says each guest may spend a minimum of 30 days in Thailand to make a worthwhile trip, since 14 days must be spent in quarantine. TAT staff visited the Phuket hotels that have been registered for the scheme, particularly the capacity of the healthcare services, and discussed conditions with hotels that will be in place in the ‘safe and sealed’ area for their new guests.

All this will, of course, push up the cost of a tourist’s stay – the hotels WON’T be cheap. And the tourist will likely be under some sort of ‘microscope’ 24/7 as the government will want to keep track of their movements, even inside the 1 kilometre radius. Ankle bracelets? If not, how are the movements of the tourists ‘tracked’?

And will locals be able to mingle inside the 1 kilometre radius area? Will there be shops open within the 1 kilometre radius and do those staff have to ‘register’ or have regular health checks? If you’re a 3-star, or lower, or a guest house in Patong, good luck!

The Tourism and Sports Ministry’s “Phuket Model” will be the first location to try the new “Safe and Sealed” plan, where a group of alternative state quarantine hotels can jointly provide a 1 kilometre safe-space for guests during the first 14 days.

Phuket, whilst catering well for the high end tourist market, also has a long list of 3 star, and lower, hotels plus an entire tour and travel segment for the mass tourism market. Nothing in this plan will assist the vast majority of Phuket hotels and tour operators.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Crown72

    Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    Crazy most normal tourist cant take long vacations and dont have the kind of money this would cost lets wait for bali September they won’t be this strict ? there still not thinking about local vendors trying to make a living well done ?????????

  2. Avatar

    richard barker

    Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    gotta start somewhere but as usual they really don’t know where the street dollars (or baht) comes from

    • Avatar

      Luigi

      Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 6:27 pm

      Impossible come in thailand with these restrictions.

  3. Avatar

    Stuart

    Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    Totally unworkable plan. It may attract a few hundred people who want to return to Thailand, such as retirees who at the moment are stuck outside with no hope of getting back. There is another perspective too. As part of this plan staff at the hotels involved will be required to stay and quarantine in the hotels as long as they have guests arriving under the scheme. My partner is a manager in a 5 star hotel, and I can assure you the staff in general are not willing to do this.

    • Avatar

      Jynz

      Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 5:01 pm

      Retirees can’t afford this plan. They retire there because they can live cheap. There are currently only 3 asq in phuket. 1 cost about 100,000 baht with higher prices for other room. The other 2 start at 220,000 baht. The you have to pay for another hotel in phuket and a test for 7 days just to leave phuket. What retirees can afford this..

    • Avatar

      Ulli

      Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 9:18 pm

      Wir leben in Hua Hin und wollten im November nach Phuket. Sollte das Projekt anlaufen, wird sicherlich kein inländischer Tourist nach Phuket kommen. Die Gefahr wäre zu groß unter Quarantäne zu kommen. Schade, wir Residenten reisen auch gern.

  4. Avatar

    Maverick

    Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Smacks of politicians trying to demonstrate to the masses that they are doing something – reality is , certainly in Phuket where I live, many businesses are shut down permanently or mothballed and staff returned to their provinces. Outside of Rawai where there is a large expat community, most resorts are deserted hardly going to attract visitors . Thailand has taken a massive bet on a vaccine and it will cost them the high season in terms of tourism , letting tourists in from low risk Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia , Taiwan, Japan and Korea is a better option hygiene, masks and social distancing with contact tracing is only option short to medium term

  5. Avatar

    RS

    Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    It needs to start sonewhere but by the time they have this up and running, most of the restaurants that have managed to survive up to now will be dead too. And at most, a few hundred snowbirds will tty to come – 99% of potential visitors will stay home until next year at least

  6. Avatar

    Erik

    Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 8:02 pm

    Thailand has 2 options.

    Or you open the borders without crazy castly demands and unworkable conditions. At most a test on departure and arrival. Life is not without risk!

    Or you wait for a properly working medicine or vaccine, somewhere in the middle of 2021.

    But stop those weird plans that very few tourists will accept!Thailand is not the center of the universe.

  7. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    It appears someone has been reading the comment section on these Phuket Travel Bubble articles.

  8. Avatar

    Thomas

    Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    I know its a plan.
    But hello, they give you a 30 day visa of which I will spend 14 days in jail, plus 2 days in/out of jail. Than take off arrival/ departure day from Thailand. We are now at 18 days wasted. If you need/ want to go to the mainland, another 7 + 2 days (based on their logic). That leaves 3 days of actual holiday. And the whole thing will cost above 100000Bht for sure. Sorry TAT, but my money is better spend in the Maldives, Dubai, EU, Caribbean etc..
    Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate your plan and I want to be with my family as well. I also don’t mind spending this money, but it needs to make sense (or value for money).
    Please go back to the drawing board.

    • Avatar

      Patrick Nouvel

      Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 5:10 pm

      The hot summer sun boiled the brains of supposed to be tourists pro of TAT. Pityful!!! Even the US CDC now do not recommend quarantines anymore.

  9. Avatar

    bob

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 12:28 am

    “After the 14 days,tourists will be free to travel within Phuket. After another week, and another test, they’ll be allowed to travel anywhere in Thailand.”

    How does this work, would this mean people in Phuket who have potentially been in contact with these 2md phase quarantine tourists freely travelling around Phuket will also need to do a test to leave Phuket?

  10. Avatar

    Preesy Chepuce

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 4:09 am

    Nobody’s going to pay for that when there are so many better options.
    People go on holiday to relax and have new experiences. This proposal sounds like an oppressive work scheme or luxury refugee internment camp. Why bother?!

  11. Avatar

    Richard

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 9:14 am

    As most if you have pointed out the conditions when in Thailand but just to get there is another thing getting all the documents and Covid test before flying, Then add another 14 days back in your home country the costs keeps rising and the amount of holiday you have to take for that short trip is not worth it rather spend it locally without all the hoops you have to jump through.

  12. Avatar

    TS

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Yes-back to the drawing board. And pin another medal on that minister for her’PHUKET MODEL’ before she finds out the high dollar tourists won’t be flying into a scammy town quarantine in the worst rainy season month (or any month). That place has been on the tourist no-go list long before covid hit. Its worth 3 days tops or not; then get out to someplace truly Thai with better beaches and freindly locals.

    better idea? Forget having china build the LOF any more stupid 11+billion per copy $ubmarines to patrol the 200ft deep gulf of Thailand and buy up as many quick check covid tests as you can. Get them online pre board/on arrival then open this joint up. To expats that wanna get back as well as tourists if they still wanna come. People are going bankrupt by the second and they can’t survive on your so-called low interest buiness loans and single destination w/quarantine opening schemes. The country needs tourists everywhere-backpackers, families, high rollers, independent travellers. You know- sort of like it used to be but with a few xtra precautions.

    • Avatar

      Nuy

      Monday, August 24, 2020 at 6:44 pm

      30 days can stay in Phuket but 14+2 days in ASQ already waste of time but still have to do I understand covid situation. 7 more days in anywhere in Phuket the 5 more days left to go to mainland. So you probably spend over 200000 THB if you have 2 or 3 members.
      But for foreigners who have Retirement visa still aren’t allowed to come to Thailand even they have own a flat in Thailand.

      So I will say if Phuket open for tourists somehow it sounds good for some Farrangs who want to return back to their families in Thailand will come if it less paperwork than going on repatriation fight.

      But for me NO too much money just to stay at ASQ it means that I might spend over 100000 thb just to see the wall in the room.

  13. Avatar

    Graham Walker

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    Yeah agree,totally unworkable and I bet not cheap. I have been trying to get back to my house in Thailand since May (no success yet), cannot even get any contact with Embassy in London (phones or e’mail) so how do they expect it to be any better with this farce ?
    I had a retirement visa but that has now expired, Thai Consulate in Scotland is not even open.

  14. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 10:46 pm

    Please sir can I have some more?
    Not much chance with these stupid Thais, who think Thailand is so wonderful that foreigners will stand these conditions to spend any time on rip off island Phuket.
    I was there years ago and never went back.

    • Avatar

      TS

      Monday, August 24, 2020 at 10:43 am

      Thai word for scam/ripoff: ‘phuket’

      Slang for one falling for this idiotic ‘sealed & safe’ scheme:
      ‘phuked

    • Avatar

      me

      Monday, August 24, 2020 at 4:47 pm

      why are you still commenting, toby? i swear if i were to ever catch you slipping, i’d smack the hell out of you.

      • Avatar

        Toby Andrews

        Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 4:20 pm

        I will smack the hell out of you if I ever meet you big mouth.
        All I see from you is two lines at most, and it is never on the subject.
        Another thing you post late in the day. You are not even in the far east are you?
        By the way I did answer your last lame post, but it was not published.

        • Avatar

          simon

          Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 8:08 am

          Go on, Toby. Give him a smack

  15. Avatar

    Patrick Nouvel

    Monday, August 24, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    If I was not concerned being forced soon to bankrupt, those TAT incompetents would make me laught through their ever statistics and jokes decisions, day & night for years already…

  16. Avatar

    Lough

    Monday, August 24, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    The best way to stress test the system is to open when the hoardes CAN’T come, is it not? I think it makes sense to open when it’s likely to be quiet. Anyway, it’d work for me, so I’m a tad biased, ha.

  17. Avatar

    Stokecitylee.

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 12:01 am

    TAT come up with some bizarre ideas. Who will go just to spend time in a hotel prison? The whole scheme is unworkable and sadly it will have terrible consequences for all the poor workers who are forced to leave there villages to gain employment to send money home. Real shame they can’t come up with a workable solution. People will find somewhere else and Thailand ( the poor) are the one s who will lose out.

  18. Avatar

    simon

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 8:04 am

    This plan will benefit tourists in the long run – especially long-stay tourists i.e backpackers.

    Thais can forget about price gouging – with so much tourist infrastructure in place and so many people who don’t know how to make a living other than through tourism – the prices will plummet. Hotel, resorts, guesthouses, bars, restaurants will all start to reopen at a faster rate than the tourists will come back. It will be like the old days.

    The government will have to address the problems of scamming and violent crime though – these things are rearing their ugly heads again – this is what Thailand was like back in the 90’s with mass tourism well underway but bus hijackings and the like still happening.

  19. Avatar

    Sian

    Friday, August 28, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    My daughter lives in Thailand. Would we be able to quarantine with her or do we have to stay in an hotel.
    Anyone know ???
    Thanks
    Sian

    • Avatar

      Alison

      Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 6:12 pm

      Yes, Id like to know the answer to that too. I would be coming from Europe and with my fiance coming from Malaysia.
      Did you get a reply?

  20. Avatar

    Alison

    Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    Hi Thaiger

    Thank you for this useful information.

    I am in Europe and desperate to get to Asia to see my fiance who is in Malaysia, we’ve been separated for over 6 months. So I would do pretty much whatever it takes to get into Thailand. I am more than happy with the quarantine period, as I would want to stay many months in Thailand/rest of Asia. He could do the same.

    Couple of questions:-
    – In the previous article, you state “the plan has already been approved by the government and the next step will involves holding a public hearing to get approval from local residents……The hearings are to be held at the start of next month.” Is it possible for you to input positive comments from people like me into the conversation?
    – Any idea on costs yet? I am also happy with 100,000 TBH – much better than having to pay the same for a hotel in Bangkok, and not being able to go outside
    – That said, I would prefer not Phuket. I hear Phi Phi/Samui/other might be possible. I guess after the Phuket model has been tested….?

    Feel free to email me

    Thanks

    Alison

  21. Avatar

    Rickie Solomon

    Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 5:00 am

    This is a funny message

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

A Thailand Covid update that you won’t read in the news

Tim Newton

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A Thailand Covid update that you won’t read in the news | Thaiger

Tim Newton goes through some of the moving goal posts regarding Thailand’s Covid situation RIGHT NOW. Vaccines for expats, what will happen after Songkran, provincial restrictions, new quarantine requirements. Reading the tea leaves and reading between the lines, Tim provides his personal opinions on many issues expats and foreigners in Thailand are worried about at this time.

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Opinion

Tourism developments threaten Cambodia’s forests and coastline

Thaiger

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Tourism developments threaten Cambodia’s forests and coastline | Thaiger
Chinese developer Yeejia has cleared large areas of once-forested land in Cambodia’s Ream National Park for its tourist resorts / Photo by Roun Ry for China Dialogue

The following story is by Danielle Keeton Olsen and Roun Ry for China Dialogue, a nonprofit focused on environmental news related to China and Asia.

“Before when we wanted to eat, we just went and caught some fish, but now it’s nothing like before, as all the natural resources have disappeared,” says 68 year old Sen Chantha who lives in a coastal hamlet within Ream National Park in southwest Cambodia. His house faces the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

The mangrove forests, wetlands and rocky coasts that supported abundant wildlife in the park have also attracted opportunistic developers. Cambodia’s government has granted development rights for mass tourism resorts leading to deforestation and the drainage of ecologically vital mangroves.

“On the way out, you will see many big trucks clearing land all over the place… They’ve started clearing about four kilometres away, and they’ll probably come here,” says Chantha, who has lived in Prek Trabek village since the early 1990s. As forest cover has disappeared, Chantha has become a campaigner, keen to defend his community against a Chinese developer backed by the Cambodian elite.

Rights threatened

Chantha’s family is one of more than 100 in his village engaged in a years-old conflict over land with the Chinese company Yeejia Tourism Development, whose concession surrounds their homes. The company has allowed them to remain in the area, but severely restricted their space to live and work.

55 year old Choeun Trop says Yeejia has taken part of her land and stopped her from collecting rattan from the forest.

Over the past 2 or 3 years, officials from the company have monitored her community tightly, at one point requiring members to carry identification cards and barring outside visitors, she says.

Trop’s son, then 16, is now in jail after joining a protest against Yeejia during which some protestors dismantled a guardhouse at the entrance to the company’s concession.

“We’re poor. It’s been very difficult, and we couldn’t ask anyone to help,” she says. She tried to enlist the support of 2 Cambodian human rights organisations, but both told her they could not intervene. “I cry and cry, and if I cry too much, I’m afraid I will faint again, and no one will take care of my son. My son cries because the situation inside the prison is terrible, and he has a very small space to sleep.”

Forests and wetlands

Ream National Park covers 34,000 hectares of diverse landscapes that include the Prek Toek Sap estuary, low-lying mountains, miles of mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs and parts of two islands.

General forests cover 55% of the land, while mangroves take about 7%. A vital ecosystem for biodiversity, mangroves support many plants, fish and crustaceans, and the fisheries they nurture feed local people.

Elsewhere in the park, remote areas of dry forest, covering 13%, could still conceal one of the last populations of rare wild cattle known as kouprey, according to a 2006 report by University of Copenhagen ecologist Robert Schmidt.

When Ream was established in 1995, it faced significant levels of commercial logging and fishing – at least one-third of its area had already been heavily changed as a result of resource extraction.

Finding ways to stop this was one of the new park’s main concerns, and international organisations, including the Asia Development Bank and the United Nations, were deployed to help find solutions.

Internationally funded projects concentrated on developing a management plan for the park and on training park rangers. Opening the park’s headquarters in late 1998, the then-environment minister, Mok Mareth, promised Ream would be a “role model” for protected areas in the country.

But although the funded projects did manage to end commercial resource extraction, illegal logging and fishing continued to flourish, with corrupt police, navy officers and fishermen combining forces to plunder the park. Then, when international funding ended in 2000, the park was left with very little financial support.

Several reports at the time recommended ecotourism as a way to fund the park. In one from the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia, published in 2001, academic Thanakvaro Thyl de Lopez outlined a “dream park” scenario, in which revenue would be generated through nature-driven tourism, allowing local people living inside the park to continue using its resources in a sustainable way.

But the report warned that this scenario would require the support of international donors, at a time when their programmes had not been renewed due to “lack of interest”.

Developers descend

With the promise of sustainable tourism starting to fade, commercial tourism stepped in.

In June 2008, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed decrees granting concessions to two companies – Yeejia, and Evergreen Success & Asia Resort Development.

Yeejia was given rights over 3,300 hectares of the park, an area they named Golden Silver Bay. When reporters visited the concession in January 2021, they found around a dozen half-built hotel-sized structures, most flanked by Cambodian guards. Outside one of them, a sign reads Qin Yue Ream National Coast in both Khmer and Chinese characters. Further in, patches of newly-paved road led to clearings where rows of identical off-white cottages stood out against the raw, red earth. Another road opened out onto a fresh construction site, where excavators were levelling a hillside, the roots of the remaining trees dangling over the manmade cliffs.

The other company, Evergreen Success & Asia Resort Development, was given a concession of 2,377 hectares.

Evergreen Success is tied to Hun To, a nephew of the prime minister, who has been investigated by the Australian authorities in connection with drug smuggling and money laundering. According to a 2012 report in The Age newspaper, To was of interest to Operation Illipango, an Australian investigation into heroin concealed in Cambodian timber shipments. Plans to arrest To were derailed when the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh cancelled his travel visa.

Powerful connections

To has since become a co-director of the Lixin Group, a Taiwanese construction and property company that has already developed a hotel in Sihanoukville under the US-based brand Wyndham.

Lixin is heavily promoting its “New City” development in Ream National Park. An advertisement on the resort’s WeChat channel from September emphasised the eco-tourism side of the project. But plans for the resort include massive developments inside the park, from a golf resort and a horse racing track to casinos and hotels, all flanked by mangroves.

Yeejia’s rise in Cambodia has also depended on elite contacts. Company chair Fu Xianting’s resumé includes time in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and then in state-owned companies, one of which brought him to Cambodia for a conference on agricultural machinery and light manufacturing.

According to a 2016 Financial Times investigation, Cambodia’s Council of Ministers revoked Fu’s concession in Ream after concerns about forest clearance from environmental groups. But Fu, who has close personal ties to Hun Sen, met with the Cambodian leader and obtained his support for continued development.

Yeejia’s development plans for Golden Silver Bay range from casinos and luxury hotels to a conference centre and medical rehabilitation facilities. Its WeChat social media presence shows it is advertising to Chinese developers seeking a slice of Cambodia, as well as to tourists. In November, Yeejia held a small ground-breaking ceremony with Zhonghai Tianhong Real Estate (Cambodia), which has leased 4 hectares of land from the developer on a 99-year lease – the same timespan as Yeejia’s 2008 concession within the park. This is despite the fact that, according to Cambodian law, concessions cannot be sold to another company without a new contract being drawn up with the government.

Neither Yeejia nor Lixin would respond to requests for comment from China Dialogue.

Ongoing destruction

Beyond the bulldozers currently clearing land in the name of tourism, illegal logging for timber has continued in Ream. Chantha, the community activist, says the state-employed park rangers conduct frequent patrols, but will release loggers who pay them. Chantha has accompanied the patrols and claims to have witnessed bribe-taking.

According to the 2001 de Lopez report, about half of rural households inside the park engaged in illegal logging in the past. Chantha and other villagers admit to cutting trees for their own use before Yeejia officials stopped them.

But things are different now. “The Ministry of Environment officials blame the community for deforestation, but it’s not us,” he says. “It’s someone outside and hired by some oknha (tycoons) or rich businessman to come clear land here.”

Meanwhile, the coast of Ream and the rest of Preah Sihanouk province is also under threat. Ouk Vibol, director of conservation in Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration, says overfishing is a significant challenge, with trawlers scooping up whatever fish they can find, destroying seagrass beds in the process. The loss of mangroves due to the park’s tourism developments is also having a big impact on fish stocks, says Ouk.

“If you destroy one habitat, there are real negative impacts on the species that move from one habitat to another.”

Just outside the national park, a little-known Chinese–Cambodian company, Canopy Sands Development, has undertaken a massive coastal reclamation project on 427 hectares granted by the Cambodian government. The company was formed one month before it received the land. Its shareholders also chair powerful companies in Cambodia, including Prince Group, whose China-born director, Chen Zhi, has obtained Cambodian citizenship through his investments.

This and other developments along the coast, which once boasted waters teeming with lucrative squid, crab and fish, have changed local fishers’ lives.

Docking just north of the Canopy Sands development, 27 year old Chan Ra says he has to be very careful where he drops his fishing lines. The traditional gear he uses to catch squid is made with large shells strung out along a line. The squid nestle into the shells for shelter without the need for bait. The shells are durable but expensive and are often damaged by the sand-dredging boats filling the Canopy Sands area, says Ra. There are still some squid to be found close to the shore, but the fisher says he has to travel further to catch crabs.

Ra lives mostly on his boat these days, because another company has been reclaiming land from the sea on the bay where he used to live. “Before we could reach home by boat, but now they’re filling it with land,” he says.

Ra has had to move three times due to development projects. Like many local people, he built a home without procuring an official land title – a requirement that was seldom enforced until land prices began to climb.

Nowhere is safe

32 year old Nam Then runs a small shop selling sundries on a hillside a couple of kilometres from the entrance to Yeejia’s concession. He has not been directly impacted by the long-running dispute between local people and the Chinese company, whose concession overlaps their customary land. But he shares his neighbours’ concerns and attends meetings about the issue at the Ream commune office.

“We share information around the community,” he says. “We are the same people who have the same affections. I am also living in one part of the community, just in a different area.”

In June last year, the government finally allocated land and promised titles to the three communities in the park affected by Yeejia’s concession. Details have yet to be worked out, however. Then keeps a plastic folder full of documents showing the outlines of plots. Some families are missing out, he says, but he and others are watching the process closely.

Then moved to his current home and shop in 2007 after Ream Naval Academy – part of a military branch that is caught up in controversies over Chinese versus US access – decided to expand into the land near where his family lived.

“Looking back at 2007, we didn’t have anything, the people were weak, information systems didn’t exist, and we were living in a military zone, so when you’re trying to protest, there was big pressure (on us),” he says.

The family’s current home is on the other side of the same mountain. They have remained relatively undisturbed since they moved, but, on a morning in late January, Then told reporters that much of the land facing his house had been cleared. He was not sure what for. When reporters passed his house again at dusk, a digger was forging a new road around the mountain, leading back to the naval academy.

When he first moved in, Then recalls: “It was all forest, huge forest, there wasn’t any road yet.” Now, for the villagers of Ream “it’s very difficult, because the houses are all on company land.”

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Tourism

We took a poll in Phuket… re-opening the island in July

Tim Newton

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We took a poll in Phuket… re-opening the island in July | Thaiger

The Thaiger put up a poll on our YouTube channel yesterday. Completely unscientific, but trying to guage some of the viewers opinions about the latest plan, Phuket Sandbox, to open up Phuket, in July this year, as a pilot for future re-openings around Thailand for travellers, without quarantine.

With the government claiming that the plan won’t go ahead unless 70% of the island’s population are already vaccinated against Covid-19, there remains as many questions as there are answers to this plan. What about the expats? What vaccinations will be used? How will the residents be alerted? Who will be the 30% who won’t be vaccinated before July? Where will the vaccinations take place? Which department will manage all the additional ‘vaccination’ paperwork for arrivals? Will passengers still have to apply for visas at the Thai embassy in their country? Will they still have to buy specific insurance policies against Covid-19 before their journey?

At this stage, as a Phuket resident, I have heard NOTHING, nada, zip, zero about this plan. Even searching for information and contacting the Provincial Authority, no additional information is forthcoming. Basically “we haven’t been told yet” was the answer. You’re welcome to add your comments as well HERE.

Obviously it will be great to have some sort of schedule to get ready for re-opening Phuket but vaccinations are only a part of what will be required to make Phuket a viable tourist destination again. But to walk a mile you have to start with a single step, etc, etc.

Here are some of the other responses, out of 280 comments, to our quick poll…

We took a poll in Phuket... re-opening the island in July | News by ThaigerJames
I doubt enough of the folks on Phuket will be willing and able to get vaccinated by July to reach that target.

DaGr8
I have kept in contact with many Thais , some living in the province of Phuket and has not heard anything about this plan, even though the vaccine is being planned for distribution.

Martyn
Doing 70% of residents not good enough. What about everyone else? Most people working there are registered elsewhere. And of course the expats?

Oliver
Will Open Just when the Rain Starts

Lightning
I just don’t see it being sustainable for businesses if you still require to social distance, wear masks and limit the amount of people you are travelling with. More than 70% of Phuket tourists are group travellers. It won’t bring enough numbers in to sustain a business. Open up fully with no quarantine, no social distancing, no masks, no limits on groups, no testing. If these rules are not applied then you can kiss Patong beach and Phuket businesses goodbye forever. But I guess thats what the globalists want right? World longevity? Sustainable environment? Every political move seems based around the World Economic Forum. There is a plan for most countries. Covid is just the gateway to the end goal

Alana
I have not heard anything about where we can get vaccinated here in Phuket. I got an email from Bangkok Hospital to guage interest in the vaccine and the brand you would like to take (last week) but if they are only at that stage of gathering data and ordering vaccines then I don’t think we will reach 70% within 3 months.

Paul
The problem here is other countries are well in front of Thailand on vaccine rollout. And that Burmese undocumented persons problem.. And many older Thais with no ID card. Expect chaos corruption.. and delay. And ideas changing every 14 days. Phuket is finished as a tourist destinations for the foreseeable future. Mal-administration is Thailand’s problem.

Trader
I can’t see that there will be free and open travel until 2022 at the earliest, I hope I’m proven incorrect but at this point I don’t see it.

Shahbaz
Just another ‘plan’/ ‘model’ made out of desperation as a result of missing tourist dollars, the Thai government should implement measures that are genuinely meant for the safety of the Thais and the tourists, not just act out of desperation to get the go go bars rolling again, any step they take should be credible and long term, not one that is going to jeopardise peoples health just to make money 🤔 so no point rushing ✌

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