TAT declares Phuket “is ready” to reopen for tourism on July 1

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn attended a meeting with Phuket officials yesterday following months of vacillation by local tourism officials and central government departments. The tug-of-war between public health imperatives and Thailand’s battered tourist industry has caused a constant barrage of changes to announced details.

“There will be no quarantine for foreign visitors under the Phuket Sandbox scheme and their 2 week confinement to the island will suffice.”

A media release from the TAT yesterday afternoon says that… “the Phuket Sandbox, is meant for fully vaccinated tourists from countries with a low or medium risk of Covid-19 transmission.”

That list, along with a number of other open questions, weren’t announced following the workshop.

“I assure you there will be no quarantine. The TAT will support Phuket’s efforts to restore its tourism industry.”

The “no-quarantine” narrative of the Sandbox, which punctuates the main difference between previous attempts for Thailand to open up to inbound international travel, will still confine arrivals to the island province of Phuket for 14 days before being able to travel to other parts of the country.

Travellers will be required to stay at hotels registered with the TAT’s SHA program (the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration). There are currently 465 hotels in Phuket already registered under the program. You can check out the lists for registered hotels and businesses HERE.

Hotels are also displaying their SHA registration on other online accommodation booking websites. Prices start as low as 800 baht per night (if you are booking on an OTA make sure your hotel choice is covered under the SHA registration scheme otherwise your COE will not be issued).

Mr. Yutasak also announced that there would be 3 screening procedures for travellers during their stay and a mandatory use of tracking apps on mobile phones.

He also said that the Standard Operating Procedures of the Sandbox program would be presented to the CCSA next Friday. And, The Thaiger assumes, the Thai Cabinet the following week with a rubber stamp in the Royal Gazette to follow. This will leave foreign Thai embassies around the world little time to issue Certificates of Entry and process paperwork for the Sandbox’s early adopters.

The TAT is hoping to attract 129,000 tourists to Phuket from July and September this year and use the information from the pilot program to open up other tourist-dependent economies in the country. Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai tourism pundits have already expressed interest in using local versions of the Sandbox model to reopen their areas to tourists.

As well as foreigners, the TAT intends to promote the destination to vaccinated Thais in a new marketing campaign set to be discussed next week, he added.

Bhummikitti Raktaengam, Phuket Tourist Association president, following yesterday’s workshop, said… “everyone must remember this is a process that must be undertaken step by step”.

Thai Airways has announced flights from European cities – Paris, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, London and Zurich – to Phuket will begin during the first week of July.

British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates and El Al will also operate flights to Phuket beginning in July.

The success of the Sandbox will frame the rest of this year’s softening of government restrictions and recovery for Thai tourism. In 2019 up to 20% of Thailand’s GDP was generated by tourism revenue.

SOURCES: TAT | Bangkok Post | c9hotelworks

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