Thai public health and tourism ministers on Phuket to push the July 1 Sandbox reopening

Bangkok has sent a couple of ministerial heavyweights to Phuket today to keep pushing the July 1 ‘Sandbox’ bandwagon, insisting that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated tourists from July 1.

The Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul ,along with the Sports and Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, are doing the island PR tour today delivering a message from the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha who is confirming that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated international tourists from the start of July.

Phuket has continued to rack up between 10-20 new Covid infections each day over the past week and still has hundreds of people listed as ‘active cases’. As of today 22% of the island has been vaccinated.

The original Phuket Sandbox model was intended to be quarantine-free. That issue was not made clear during today’s PR trip from the 2 ministers. The full details of how Phuket will open to international tourists, how those tourists might get to Phuket, or where they will visit on an island with its tourist infrastructure shutdown, have not been provided at this stage. It has also not been discussed how long the international tourists will have to remain on Phuket before travelling to other parts of the country.

The Phuket Governor welcomed the prime ministerial delegation to Provincial Hall at lunchtime saying that Phuket would progress with its plans to launch the Phuket Sandbox from July 1.

“All stakeholders who are frontline warriors working to solve the problem of the Covid epidemic situation have earned the goodwill and concern from Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also believes that Phuket is ready to prepare for the opening of the Phuket Tourism Sandbox on July 1 for sure.”

Phuket Province generated several hundreds of billions of baht of income for the country per year and Thailand relies heavily on tourism income. Indeed, second to Bangkok, Phuket was the government’s golden goose delivering decades of high tourism receipt returns.

Speaking to The Phuket News, Anutin said…

“The government is ready to act as soon as possible. This has been clearly proved, such as by the large number of vaccine doses that Phuket has been allocated to vaccinate the people in the area to cover all groups and be as safe as possible as the ‘Phuket Model’.

“When the economy is good, everyone gets better, so use patience to believe that good things will follow”.

Another 100,000 Sinovac vaccines arrived on the island to be formerly handed over today by Minister Anutin. An additional 100,000 doses will arrive on Tuesday.

AstraZeneca vaccines are also due to arrive from June, daily reserved for people over 60 years old or people who have other health conditions which require the AZ vaccine instead of the Chinese manufactured Sinovac.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Tim Newton

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2011. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 42 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program (public radio Australia), presented over 11,000 radio news bulletins, 3,950 in Thailand alone, hosted 1050 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. He also reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand.


  1. There is only one problem, does the business owner ready? base on the youtube video taken on Apr and May, only patong is temperaory closed, but most on Kata and Karon are shutdown completely. I wondering what attract tourism to go Phuket.

  2. I see the pace of things ramping up in Phuket. If 70% or more of the population of Phuket are vaccinated, there is hope that things can return to something like normal. If not, then it is a failure of the Thai Government…NOT the fault of the people. As people, we have to take what is given, sadly. But I encourage the people of Phuket to take vaccines whenever it is presented to you to take.

  3. the ministers do not consider the fact that the credibility of the government abroad is very low, there are 45 days to July 1st and potential western tourists have already organized themselves for the summer holidays, moreover the Chinese vaccine is not effective in preventing the spread of the infection.
    Chinese tourists cannot leave the country, Indian tourists are better off not letting them arrive with their version of the virus, who are they waiting for?
    With the ongoing economic crisis and travel restrictions in unvaccinated countries, Thailand could be a holiday destination for the summer of 2022, by which time the baht will be back to 2000s levels and will be a pull factor for Western tourists, I doubt India and China will have managed to vaccinate three billion people by that time.

  4. Very confusing information here even by current standards.
    From the outside it looks like local government are trying to close the place down while national government are trying to open the place up.
    To make matters worst the essentially bankrupt national carrier are now taking scheduled bookings from many of the traditional european markets to phuket staring on July 2.central government states they no longer own the disgraced carrier and will not be funding it any longer.
    Many of the countries they are advertising the flights from still have numerous travel restrictions in place for there residents and they are still owing many people either flights or refunds in those places anyway.
    Do they genuinely believe they will get anyone to board one of their aircraft in such a situation for a holiday.
    If they do there is absolutely no hope for the entire international thai tourism industry.i can not believe even one person would be stupid enough to consider making a booking under such circumstances.

  5. If they actually want to open July 1 and get a decent number of tourists, Thailand needs to be open with all the details. If anything they are going in the wrong direction in that regard. Any kind of quarantine is a deal killer. But there are dozens of details that will also effect the numbers. Things like testing, restrictions on travel, amount of time required to stay in Phuket, insurance, travel restrictions and several more. Until those are published and lock in stone, people will be wary of visiting. It’s already getting late in the process, and people will just travel somewhere else for the summer.

  6. Agreed @Edward V. Potential visitors need to know all those things well in advance. Are would be visitors required to get a Certificate of Entry (CoE)? What about a Covid test prior to travel? If you have been vaccinated and hence allowed in, what constitutes vaccinated? Is it at least 14 days before arrival and is there a period after your second jab that you are still deemed vaccinated? What about health insurance? Does it have to be a direct flight to Phuket or can you transit in BKK? Will you need Covid tests while in Phuket or after 10,14,21 days if you wish to travel outside Phuket? What if you have children’s under the age of 16 and wish to bring them with you? Will a Thai partner be allowed to boing you on arriving in Phuket? Are there only certain parts of Phuket you can visit? Will there be any restrictions where you can travel in Phuket? Etc etc etc. I simply can not see them getting answers to all these questions before the end of June. Realistically they need to have them answered by end of May

  7. If the daily cases and deaths keep going up[ as they currently are, the UK government may well bring in mandatory quarantine for returning visitors, that wont help one little bit. I can’t see anything resembling mass tourism returning just yet. Will the locals even trust the 50% efficient Sinovac? I very much doubt it.

  8. “The government is ready to act as soon as possible…So use patience to believe that good things will follow”. Best joke i ever heard. I am thinking mid or end 2022 at the least for tourists to go Thailand again…

  9. “As people, we have to take what is given, sadly.”

    Even Sinovac, @Jason?

    Israel and the Seychelles have proven beyond any doubt that Pfizer is five hundred times more effective than Sinovac (and possibly AZ).

    What’s the point in taking a vaccine that simply doesn’t work?

  10. I agree with Nigel & Edward the 5th above. Potential tourists need details on travel requirements now in May before a rational booking process can occur with hotels/airlines. We await the Thai government to provide those details soon. If not, there will be very few visitors in July I am guessing. I hope we see such details in the next 2-3 weeks. In addition, vaccinated tourists are likely low risk and should not be burdened with many restrictions/requirements. Let’s make it simple and easy for tourists to stay for a week in Phuket if we have had the vaccine jabs.

  11. @Nigel – Right. And so many major destinations are cut throat marketing for tourists at cut rate prices and under very easily understandable conditions. Thai hotels are invisible. There’s no deals for international tourists. Thai officials seem confused and aren’t anywhere near ready by comparison. Do they think tourists only have Thai to consider and billions will just fall from the sky and save their butts….again? It really is different this time. International tourism is far more organized as a competition and Thai is taking for granted. Thai started as cheap , boozy and floozy….but these days you can get that anywhere.

  12. For any UK based potential visitors,one of thailand’s traditional major long haul markets the situation is particularly grim.
    The main choices are the 1 weekly flight on the national carrier that might not exist by July or very limited availability on the major middle eastern cariers.if you transit via the the UAE your last port of embarkation is a red zone so you will be liable for quarantine on your return to the UK.does not matter you are in the transit lounge,you are in the country.check with UK border forces if you disagree.
    Welsh residents have just been advised not to travel overseas for leisure purposes until the end of the year and I would not be surprised if the pm does a u turn on leisure travel restrictions in the next few weeks depending on the situation with the latest variant.
    If anybody makes such a trip for holiday reasons and gets stuck in thailand which is a very realistic prospect at present you only have your self to blame and best you don’t go crying to the embassy/government for repatriation because nobody is going to be very impressed.

  13. There is no guarantee that vaccinated tourists from various countries are safe from virus infection again,as evidenced by re-infection cases,after successful vaccinations in some countries.It is still early days for tourism to resume so soon,as the crisis in the country is far from over.

  14. Sam that’s true and why I would expect most tourist to shy away from countries with low vaccination levels. Remember we are talking about tourists going to Phuket who would at that point (whenever that is) have something close to 70% of its population vaccinated. Also while vaccinate people can still catch the virus it’s much less likely as many of the vaccines offer quite a bit of protection. Basic mask wearing, sanitation and some level of social distancing and I bet it’s pretty safe. Even so, it’s highly doubtful both Phuket and Thailand get their ducks in a row in time for a July reopen. I would say either august or September which means I go to Europe instead. I’ll wait till late December for Thailand.

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