by Andrew J. Wood
In a move largely expected after intense lobbying from the huge Travel and Tourism industry here in Thailand, the government approved the waiving of quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors arriving on Phuket from July 1, the first significant reopening for the popular tourism destination.
An economic panel chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday approved the proposal by Phuket’s private sector and business groups to inoculate at least 70% of the island’s residents to reopen for vaccinated tourists, said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
Thai tourism and airline businesses, with the support of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), Thai Chamber of Commerce, Thai Hotels Association (THA), Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), SKAL THAILAND, PATA TH, International Air Transport Association (IATA), #OpenThailandSafely campaign, Board of Airline Representatives Business Association (BAR), Airlines Association of Thailand (AAT), all commended the government on its success in containing the Covid-19 pandemic in Thailand, however expressed their wish to now restart tourism from overseas for vaccinated travellers.
Phuket has been without any new Covid-19 cases for 89 days. Phuket authorities have approved plans to welcome visitors without quarantine on July 1 to stimulate the local economy, and will have one million Covid-19 vaccine doses before that. There is an urgent need for foreign tourists here, to stimulate both the economy and tourism sector. Before, a local resident earned about 40,000 baht per month on average.* In February this fell to about 8,000 baht. Without some change, this will fall to 1,964 baht in July, which is below the poverty line.
A survey revealed that foreigners are interested in visiting Phuket but without undergoing quarantines. Local official says those foreigners who visit without undergoing quarantine, will be tracked using the Covid-19 tracing mobile app.
The government plans to test the reopening plan in Phuket before other key tourist hot spots, such as Koh Samui, to help restart the tourism industry battered by a year without its millions of tourists who contributed to one-fifth of the economy before the pandemic. Koh Samui, following Phuket, is also asking for approval to allow foreign travellers to skip quarantine requirements. Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, the president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, says he is hopeful for Samui to receive approval.
The approval for Phuket means it will reopen three months earlier than the rest of the country, which is expected to reopen for those who are fully vaccinated only in October.
*The Thaiger would disagree with this assertion, suggesting that the average monthly earnings for a Phuket citizen would be more like 10,000 – 20,000 baht.
Andrew J. Wood was born in Yorkshire England, he is a professional hotelier, Skalleague and travel writer. Andrew has over 40 years of hospitality and travel experience. He is a hotel graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh. Andrew is a past Director of Skal International (SI), National President SI Thailand and is currently President of SI Bangkok and a VP of both SI Thailand and SI Asia. He is a regular guest lecturer at various Universities in Thailand including Assumption University’s Hospitality School and the Japan Hotel School in Tokyo.
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