Connect with us

Business

What is so important about the Sandbox?

Avatar

Published

 on 

PHOTO: Phuket's beaches have never looked better

OPINION by Bill Barnett from c9hotelworks.com

Being on the ground in Phuket over the past sixteen months of the pandemic I have experienced the up’s and downs of pandemic tourism firsthand. Over the past month with the Sandbox program coming into place, we have seen over 13,000 travellers arrive at the Phuket International Airport.

“What is so important about the Phuket Sandbox” goes deeper than its perception of as tourism play and the reality of who the travellers are. In the past weeks I have seen the joy of families reunited, partners joined again, residents returning and businesspeople again restarting commerce.

The Sandbox is not just about Phuket, but it’s about Thailand and providing a safe environment for international travel. It’s not about shelving domestic tourism and only looking at foreign guests, but has embraced returning Thais and allow people, whose ultimate destination might be in different locations throughout the country, a way back home.

I was able to attend an event last week about the current issues facing and Sandbox an hopefully allow readers to gain some perspective on the issue. As Bangkok grapples with rising numbers of Covid infections, leading tourism voice KP Ho, Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Group, has told European envoys, airlines, senior officials and business leaders, that for Phuket Sandbox to succeed it is imperative for Phuket to be given “green” destination status.

Speaking at the Phuket Sandbox Summit held at Laguna Phuket, KP Ho called on policy-makers in Europe and around the world to support Phuket as a separate “green” zone.

Phuket has the potential to lead the global tourism recovery, as the historic Phuket Sandbox initiative sets the standard for other destinations to follow, he said. But, to succeed, governments need to recognise it as a safe, self-enclosed destination, rather than combining its travel status with the rest of Thailand.

See full address by KP Ho, Executive Chairman, Banyan Tree Group: https://youtu.be/Mp5Xncz1Vz8

KP Ho’s position was supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand at the Phuket Sandbox Summit. Deputy Governor for International Marketing Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americans, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, said…

“We are trying to propose Phuket to the UK government to be on the green list of destinations, even though Thailand is on the amber list. We are optimistic about Phuket Sandbox. Phuket is safe and we will never compromise anyone’s safety.”

He confirmed there were almost 300,000 rooms booked until the end of August in SHA Plus hotels, with nearly 13,000 arrivals and 124 flights after 28 days, with many more scheduled. Top markets are the US, UK, Israel, Germany, France, the UAE and Switzerland with an average length of stay 11 days.

As anxiety grows across Southeast Asia’s key travel destinations struggling with infection numbers, the Phuket Sandbox model is rapidly becoming the standard bearer of hope for the tourism industry.

Launched on July 1, 2021, the Sandbox enables fully-vaccinated international visitors to fly directly to the destination and stay on the island quarantine-free. Hotels need to ensure at least 70% of their staff have received vaccines – the same inoculation rate as Phuket’s population, creating herd immunity against Covid-19. While the high level of protection doesn’t prevent people from catching Covid-19, it does significantly reduce the likelihood of serious illness and hospitalisation.

“Infections and re-infections are not what really count; it’s hospitalisation rates and ICU rates that count. The Thai government have to emphasise those new numbers and shift the narrative towards ‘how many people are really getting sick?’, not ‘are the numbers going up?’,” added Mr Ho.

By reporting this new data, he said, it should be possible for Phuket to be set apart from the rest of Thailand and placed on the ‘safe list’ of destinations to visit. This is not without precedent; the UK government for example, has put the island of Madeira on its green list, while the rest of Portugal remains on the amber list. The same rule applies to Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

“What’s really important is that EU countries – the national governments, spurred on by travel agents, the media and other people – recognise that it’s necessary to disengage the perception of Phuket from the rest of Thailand. It should be a situation where Thailand could be a red alert zone but Phuket could be a green zone,” said Mr Ho.

It could be possible to create a series of Sandboxes in other destinations, such as Koh Samui (which recently launched Samui Plus), Bali and Phu Quoc. As long as that Sandbox is well-organised, as it is in Phuket, it should be separated from the rest of the country.”

Vice Governor of Phuket, Mr Piyapong Choowong, added…

“I would like to confirm we support Phuket Sandbox. We are making sure people on the island and all visitors are safe so we can run the Sandbox smoothly and continue to welcome more tourists to Phuket.”

Presenting the most up-to-date data, there is a lot at stake but what is clear is that Phuket Sandbox is alive and well, and it’s working.

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Bill Barnett has over 30 years of experience in the Asian hospitality and property markets. He is considered to be a leading authority on real estate trends across Asia, and has sat at almost every seat around the hospitality and real estate table. Bill promotes industry insight through regular conference speaking engagements and is continually gathering market intelligence. Over the past few years he has released four books on Asian property topics.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand7 hours ago

Thailand News Today | OnlyFans content creators arrested on pornography charges | September 21

Thailand8 hours ago

Soldier allegedly assaults neighbours following horn honking

Thailand9 hours ago

Border agencies instructed to look out for gun smuggling along Myanmar border

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 10,919 new cases; provincial totals

Thailand10 hours ago

Officials clarify Korat police van stopped at the beach after collecting murder suspect

Crime10 hours ago

OnlyFans content creators arrested by Thai police on pornography charges

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand11 hours ago

Comments Galore! feat. Golf | Thaiger Bites | September 21

Cambodia11 hours ago

Scientists study bats in Cambodia to find clues about Covid

News12 hours ago

Update: government official that allegedly stole from fund meant for the disabled spent all the money on gambling

Thailand13 hours ago

Morning Top Stories | Reopening of entertainment venues, Manny Pacquiao for president | September 21 |

World13 hours ago

Flight restrictions to the US to ease in November – US government

Thailand14 hours ago

Bangkok re-opening Criteria, Thai Airways keeps Struggling | Good Morning Thailand | Episode 93

Thailand14 hours ago

Government warns that posting pornographic material is illegal following OnlyFans creator being questioned by police

Indonesia14 hours ago

Bali to re-open for international yachts with fully vaccinated crew, passengers

World15 hours ago

British Airways tests first ever net-zero carbon emissions flight

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14 | Thaiger
Thailand1 week ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending