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


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.”

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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.

OpinionPhuket NewsTourism News

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