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Vaccinated foreign tourists may be offered free flights to boost inter-provincial travel

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: iiitto / Flickr

The Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, says vaccinated foreign tourists may be offered free domestic flights during their holiday in order to boost inter-provincial travel. The proposal comes after the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand called for 40,000 vaccine doses to protect airline employees.

“From July 1, inoculated tourists exempt from quarantine might be tempted to extend their stay here after spending 10 days in Phuket if we can provide them free or discounted air tickets to other provinces.”

The Bangkok Post reports that Phiphat’s ministry has been in talks with Bangkok Airways, owner of Samui airport, about how the proposal might benefit tourism in the area. Officials expect Phuket’s “sandbox” model, which begins July 1, to bring around 100,000 foreigners to the southern island during its first 3 months. Phiphat says that, as the island’s re-opening falls in the middle of the region’s monsoon season, the offer of free domestic flights may appeal to tourists once they’ve completed their Phuket stay.

Santisuk Klongchaiya from Thai AirAsia says the carrier could offer discounted fares on domestic flights if tourists participating in the sandbox model are willing to travel.

“We may offer free or discounted tickets, but we have to ensure tourists are confident to travel.”

Meanwhile, Woranate Laprabang from Thai Vietjet says the carrier has signed up to the International Air Transport Association travel pass project, which it expects to pilot on semi-commercial flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok in June.

Phiphat is also calling on hotels to introduce special packages for tourists who stay longer than 10 days in the Kingdom, adding that if the pairing with Samui works well for nearby communities such as Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, it could be extended to places like Pattaya, using U-tapao airport, and Chiang Mai.

The minister is ambitious with his figures, saying Thailand aims to welcome a further 6.4 million tourists in the last quarter of the year, once the sandbox model is extended to Krabi, Samui, Pattaya, Phang Nga and Chiang Mai. However, he says Bangkok must also be included.

“The six tourism provinces in the planned sandbox plus Bangkok generate 80% of tourism revenue. Bangkok should be the next destination added, with a goal to administer 20 million doses by September to ensure a safe re-opening for both tourists and local communities.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Friday, April 2, 2021 at 10:37 am

    Proving that the Thai authorities do have a sense of humour.
    They should have announced this on April Fools day.
    There is noooooo chance of this happening!

  2. Avatar


    Friday, April 2, 2021 at 11:41 am


    “The minister is ambitious with his figures, saying Thailand aims to welcome a further 6.4 million tourists in the last quarter of the year, once the sandbox model is extended”

    I am sorry but I thought joke day was yesterday.

    6.4 million tourists in the last quarter of the year, will almost mirror the number of tourists the last quarter of 2019 BEFORE covid.

    Also I think the “Sandbox Model” requires 70 percent of residents to be vaccinated. I think that it will take the government 2 years to get anywhere near 70 percent of population vaccinated. Even in the tourist areas.

    The government has not offered one iota of evidence that they are capable of any success in a vaccine rollout.

    One other thing… the government wants to give the vaccine to hospitals for Thais to come and get.

    Ask any Thai about wait time in a hospital here in Thailand about going in for a doctor appointment. Several hours required just for an appointment with the wait. So this will carry over to hesitancy on going to a hospital to get free vaccination.

    I thought posting known false information is unlawful here in Thailand. Why is the government allowed to do it. They have to know their statements are frivolous and without merit.

  3. Avatar


    Friday, April 2, 2021 at 11:57 am

    So do we have to stay 7 days or 10 days in Phuket? Is the extra 3 days only a requirement to get the free airfare? Sure seems like Thailand is going do what is needed to make sure this latest scheme succeeds. I had read in the India Times story claiming a Thai official said they might open at only 50-60% vaccination. Makes you wonder.

  4. Avatar


    Friday, April 2, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    I can guarantee that no airlines will give free flights to anyone after a year of no income

  5. Avatar


    Friday, April 2, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    Abracadabra, 100.000 foreigners in ko Samui from July to September and 6,4 million in the other islands from October to December.

  6. Avatar


    Friday, April 2, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    This only shows how desperate they are. At first they said Thailand is not dependent on the travel industry. The missing income from foreigners must be trickling down to other parts of the economy when they propose such crazy ideas.

  7. Avatar


    Friday, April 2, 2021 at 6:39 pm

    A lot of talk , blah blah blah. They have no clue what they want to do. How about this for a novel idea, if you are vaccinated come on in! No hoops to jump through, no quarantines. I will not waste my time and money vacationing in quarantine and every one I know says the same. I am going somewhere else for vacation….

  8. Avatar

    Mr cynic

    Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 8:57 pm

    What might happen might equally not happen.since when was anything free in thailand or any other place.
    bankrupt airlines are now going to start flying the pax about the place for free.the banks shareholders,creditors and unpaid staff are sure to like this gem of an idea.thought april 1st jokes in thailand had been banned this year.

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