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Will Phuket’s ‘safe and sealed’ campaign attract foreign tourists?



Summer starts to wane in the northern hemisphere with thoughts of autumn leaves and, then, colder weather. Naturally the eyes of the world’s travellers, largely cooped up inside their own borders since March, look at their suitcases and ponder a trip… to Thailand!

That’s now a possibility although there are plenty of hoops to jump through in Thailand’s planned re-opening plan called “Safe and Sealed” which is set to kick off on October 1.

Thailand’s Minister of Tourism Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has set the date of October 1 for a new pilot program which will start with the island of Phuket. If successful – if tourists actually come and there isn’t a new spike in Covid-19 cases – the project will be expanded to include other destinations.

“I have asked the PM for approval to set October 1 as the date to allow inbound tourists to enter. I also have requested to use Phuket as a pilot model and have received approval from the Centre for Economic Situation Administration.”

Here’s sort of how it works… Tourists would be permitted to fly to Phuket and will need to quarantine in a resort for 14 days. But you wouldn’t be confined to your room with a 1 kilometre “safe” radius from the resort included in your quarantine area. So, if your chosen resort is on the beach then you’ll be able to at least lounge around and have a swim during your first 2 weeks on the island. If you were staying somewhere near Patong’s beach, in theory you’d be able to get around a large chunk of the resort town within your 1 kilometre radius.

Tourists will need to get a Covid-19 test at the beginning and end of the quarantine period. After that they’ll be free to travel around the rest of the island (and there’s plenty to see as Phuket is about the size of Singapore).

But the tourism minister notes that tourists wanting to travel beyond Phuket will have to stay in quarantine for another 7 days and undergo yet another Covid-19 test at the end of that 21 day quarantine period.

And here’s where it starts to get silly. Hotel staff, working in these designated 1-kilometre “safe” zones won’t be permitted to leave without first going into quarantine and will be tested regularly for Covid-19 as well. Whilst some hotel staff live on-site in staff quarters, there are many others who live in cheaper spots on the island, off the touristy west coast… and WELL outside the 1 kilometre radius.

The other part of Phuket’s Safe & Sealed proposition is to get tourists onto the island in the first place. Phuket Airport has been closed to scheduled International flights since the start of April. Are airlines going to be able to fill up a plane load of eager passengers, willing to come for a minimum of 30 days, in a selected range of expensive hotels? We will soon find out.

Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Yuthasak Supasorn, says 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, presumably the ones who will fall inside the 1 kilometre radius of the hotels. The hearings are to be held at the start of next month.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit Thailand’s economy hard. For Phuket the situation has been even worse with the island’s economy almost entirely reliant on a steady stream of tourists with deep pockets.

Since the end of March there has been little opportunity to travel inbound or outbound with the vast majority of international flights shelved. The only people flying into Thailand, since April, have been repatriation flights and a select handful of foreigners. All have to undergo 14 days of state-controlled quarantine.

Whilst the opening up of domestic tourism, since the start of July, and the Thai government throwing money at stimulus packages for Thai travellers, at least inside the borders, places like Phuket and Koh Samui, which aren’t within driving distance of Bangkok, have been left empty. Phuket’s usually manic party town, Patong, as well as the other west coast beach towns, are lonely and quiet places at the moment with almost all the of the local shops and hotels shuttered.

Bill Barnett, from C9 Hotelworks, says the plan to welcome international tourist to Phuket is at least a step in the right direction.

“Covid-19 is unparalleled compared to other events but, looking at 9/11 and the restarting of travel, it was in baby steps, not giant steps. ‘Safe and Sealed’ is not a silver bullet but it’s a step forward versus assuming the ‘deer in the headlights’ position so I’d view it as positive.”

“Working a legacy segment that already stays for over a month during the winter is a rational step.”

Bill notes that Scandinavians, Russians, Britons and Germans are regular long-stay guests to Phuket each year.

Read The Thaiger’s response to the Safe and Sealed plan for Phuket HERE.



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  1. Luigi

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Too many thinks to do before.
    Every year we come in Phuket for 5 months. We have house and car.
    But with all these restriction ve don’t come.

    • JJ

      Friday, August 28, 2020 at 3:01 pm

      We have also house and car in Phuket.
      Usually we are spending there 4 months / year.

      This summer we went Greece since Phuket was closed
      and It would have been too big hassle and expense to be in Phuket.

      As long We cannot self quarantine ourselves at our own property.
      We are not coming to Phuket.

      And no.. We dont spend out money only to 7eleven and Tesco @Phuket 😉

  2. barry

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    2 other issues:
    so far the plan is to allow tourists to roam freely around Phuket after 14 days in quarantine at their resort and a negative test.
    Then after another 7 days, they can take another test and be allowed to leave Phuket if it’s negative.

    This is where it gets tricky, since it means that all Phuket residents can be in contact with the freely roaming tourists in this 7 day post quarantine window.
    Which could mean that everyone would need a negative test to leave Phuket if we get cases outbreaks then. Sarasin Bridge and airport closed, etc…

    Also the standard length of tourist visas is 30 days, before having to apply for extensions, which means Phuket immigration will need to handle this

    • Max

      Friday, August 28, 2020 at 9:08 am

      You’re not allowed to go wherever you want during the first 14 days quarantine. It’s not a 1 km radius as it says in the article, it’s 1km beach next to the hotel/resort. So,you can’t go into town even if your hotel is located in Patong. The locals are not in danger what so ever. A quarantine is a quarantine.

  3. Joe

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    Just when you think the story can’t get any dumber enter Bill Bar Net, the man who can never say what he really thinks, just a lot of B. S.

  4. slippered lobster

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Leads me to think that outbreaks are inevitable and it will be hard for those of us who live here, to leave Phuket..or come back (after visiting other provinces) Just like when it all started. It’s a big sacrifice for a small amount of profits. Big winners are the expensive resorts and Thai Airline Companies. So Phuket is the sacrificial Lamb. Airline crews will also need the same quarantines, and all employees at the airport. As well as luggage handlers, customs and immigration personnel…etc.

  5. Sahil Sareen

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    This plan needs more fine tuning to make It practical and value for money spent by any kind of tourist, the current plan doesn’t seem suitable!

    • cynthia pawl

      Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 1:54 am

      I want to know what Resorts anyways or do I pick or a resort that the Thai government has picked

  6. Mario

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    Yup, there is noo way that this plan will backfire

  7. amanda murry

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    I think we should all be allowed into phuket and lift the quarantine we come for 17 days every year and we not allowed this year all these ppl who go 4 longer can go and we carnt the likes of us spend 100 pound a day and backpackers would have a small budget so we would be better to get economy going by spending more money I am devod we carnt go please let us come and lift the quarantine thanks mandy

  8. Perceville Smithers

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    No, it will not.

    • R

      Friday, August 28, 2020 at 7:55 pm

      You come every year and spend 100 pounds per day is not as important as the safety of Thai citizens/residents. I do not want Thailand to be like Europe where # of COVID cases is much higher than Thailand.

      I hope the Thai government continues to use 14-days quarantine to protect Thai residents.

  9. Bobby m

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 12:07 am

    No thanks

    Q. What is the one tourist industry that has all but closed its doors.

    A. cruising

    So what do you do.

    Create a virtual cruise ship called Phuket. Honestly can you not learn anything from what the rest of the world is doing. You are creating a location for a guaranteed outbreak that your infrastructure will not be able to cope with.

    Open your eyes. Yes if you open there will be infections, it’s a flue virus, but those infections will be small and you have more chance of controlling them.

    Test, test and test again. You have to accept their will be infections,. So if you open, it’s about how best you control them.

  10. Troy

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 12:52 am

    No-one will come.

  11. b t jones

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 8:49 am

    The price of these hotels could be their total budget for some, and britons as they say normally like to visit at least three places in my experience, bangkok, chiangmai and the islands normally within 3 or 4 weeks maximum. These long stay people hes refering to aren’t tourists. Tourists have jobs to go back to. People who stay for a month or more are digital nomads or someone is running their business back home for them. Thailand doesnt test for infections because you have to pay each time around 5000 baht and not many people can afford it. I know a number of people who had flu symptoms who were given asthma medicine by the hospital with no covid test.

  12. Ron

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 9:30 am

    “Will Phuket’s ‘safe and sealed’ campaign attract foreign tourists?” In a word NO!

    The vast majority of the “Snow Bird” Tourist stay in rental properties, or already own a condo or stay at the lessor known properties or guest houses and will NOT spend the hundreds of thousands of baht to stay at a 5-star quarantine resort. Phuket is nice, but not that nice.

    • Ninushka

      Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 12:35 am

      So if you travel to Phuket , do you have to do your quarantine in a hotel or can you stay in an apartment? I would feel safer in an apartment.

    • Nigel Baker

      Friday, September 4, 2020 at 3:20 pm

      Absolutely correct!

      Until there is a vaccine, people need to accept this virus exists in the community,just like HIV and like HIV, we must be responsible in how we conduct ourselves.

      So, when we buy a ticket to fly to Thailand, 15 days before departure, you must have fit to fly certificate issued by your Doctor. On arrival at your departure airport, you have another test, if all is clear, your fit to fly certificate is validated by the airport immigration/customs department. All precautions have happened in your own country. On arrival in Thailand go enjoy your holiday.

  13. cafedelmar

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 9:47 am

    how about the many people who have bought property on the island – are they not allowed to stay in their own villa/condo? This & all governments need to wake up to the fact that for the vast majority of people this virus is a non event. Governments worldwide are destroying economies & lives for ZERO.

    • Erik

      Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 3:22 am

      For zero! 800,000 dead and millions of mourning relatives. Cities where the morgues could no longer handle the dead bodies. Plus millions who have been seriously ill with permanent residual damage. Thailand is quite right that it now wants to keep the virus under control after a strong lockdown.

      By the way,14 days of quarantine is about standard worldwide. Logically, this lung virus threatens many vulnerable people. Diabetes, lung, heart patients, the elderly etc. etc. but also 50 and 60 year olds such as Boris Jhonson. And a civilized country wants to protect its vulnerable ones! Otherwise, go to Brazil, it also has beautiful beaches and there is one who calls it a harmless flu! Remain that I also find these plans completely nonsensical.

  14. David Sanders

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    I cant get back to Phuket with my O-A visa, so this is my chance!

  15. Khaja Sarfaraj Mansur

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    This not going to work anyway…… Here is a proposal

    1. Reduce quarantine period to 7 days. After 7 days, allow to travel inside Pukhet up to 14 days. Conduct 3 tests during this period (If Negative) then allow to travel anywhere in Thailand without any quarantine.

    2.Cost for 7 Days quarantine period (which includes Hotel, food, Test, transportation) should be around 25k baht.

    3. Open 4 to 5 more islands like this so that you can have enough tourists to start commercial flights.

    4. Start commercial flights

    And Most importantly……. open your mind, stop panicking, get educated about covid-19 & stop being misguided by your own epidemiologist and doctors.

    Tourists want to come Thailand and Thailand need tourists. So make it possible with a realistic and reasonable plan.

    • R

      Friday, August 28, 2020 at 8:03 pm

      Stop panicking just like the US that laughed at other countries who have been using masks.
      Who are you to dictate how many days the quarantine should be?
      Everyone from abroad must be strictly quarantine. Use your smart brain to think!!! If one of those tourists is infected while your policy was in place, Phuket residents are exposed to COVID. And at the end, Phuket will be ordered to lockdown as no other provinces are willing to take risk.

      • Khaja Sarfaraj Mansur

        Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 2:31 am

        oh yes sure….. absolutely right…. don’t allow anyone…. you will get Corona…. Wait for vaccine until 2022… let 4 million Thais Suffer …. at least you will be safe….

        By the way how many died in road accident since Corona pandemic starts in Thailand??

        If it is more than 58 then please don’t come out in the street…. it is more risky…

  16. james

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 12:42 am

    What about the fact people who arrive back in their own country from Thailand have to stay in quarantine for two weeks as no one believes the number of deaths and cases in Thailand?

    No one believes there were only around 58 deaths in Thailand due to the virus.

    I have just arrived back to the UK from Thailand and I have to stay home for two weeks.

    As I walked thought the international airport in Bangkok I saw three other farangs in the whole of the airport.

    Most of the shops in the airport are closed.

    95% of the restaurants, hotels, etc are closed in Patong.

    It is too expensive and time-consuming to fly all the way to Thailand if all tourists can do is sit on a beach, they can do that in cheaper countries which are closer to home.

  17. Gabby

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 2:58 am

    All these plans and ideas are one big nonsense. Nobody can hide from Covid. Everyone has to learn to live with it until there’s cure for the virus. Until then countries like Thailand who are dependent on tourists will have to face the ugly truth. Their citizens will either die from Covid or from hunger. Visa restrictions should also be revised. It’s outdated and full of unnecessary restrictions especially for those who are owners of some sort of property and would like to stay for 4-6 months at a time.

  18. R

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    Why do the tourists get the privilege of 1 KM radius during their 14-days quarantine?
    If 1 tourist got COVID and walk around in 1 KM radius, Thais who live around the neighborhood will be at risk of getting COVID.

    Sound so stupid. Who will be responsible if the # of new cases in Thailand increases because of this non-sense policy?

  19. KC

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 4:04 am

    My husband and I both run location-independent businesses and can stay anywhere for as long as we choose. Thailand is our favorite country and we have spent more time here than any other place and I would love to return. I would actually consider this option as a way back in if the prices were more reasonable but they aren’t even close. I think they are vastly overestimating how badly people want to come here. I can only imagine what you will have to go through to get permission to come and a flight booked. Of the 3 ASQ hotels listed for Phuket I have seen so far, the cheapest one was about 5,000 USD for two people. The other two were 12,000 and 14,000 dollars! I doubt few who could afford this would think it is worth it and I don’t think they are giving that much thought…I can and I certainly don’t think it is. This is not the kind of money most long-term travelers are spending here. This situation is certainly exposing their true feelings about foreigners, both tourists and long-term residents. It is their country and they can do things however they want, but this idea of becoming some high-end tourist destination primarily is probably not going to happen anytime soon. I think it is a great place and I do hope they find a way to get people back in and get people working again.

  20. Philippe

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 7:24 pm

    Que sera sera .. what ever will be will be.
    All over the world and certainly in Europe, the USA, Brazil, governments have made the most ridiculous decisions regarding Corona. So check your own country before commenting on the Thai government.
    Like everywhere, the choice is between plague and cholera.
    I am also a Thai minded tourist, for decades and to be honest I have already given a serious advance for next March … if it doesn’t happen then I’m out of luck.
    And as everywhere the weakest community is the victim in this case a large part of the Isan population.

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