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Phuket to open on July 1 – first in Thailand

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Phuket to open on July 1 – first in Thailand | Thaiger

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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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Steve Kelly

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 4:47 pm

    Great news, but… will it really happen? What method of arrival will be allowed? Can I fly Europe to BKK and connect to Phuket. Will I be able to get a visa on arrival? What hotels will tourists be allowed to stay in? I am vaccinated and ready to travel but reluctant to book a flight and place to stay until I know the details. I am happy to be tracked and tested for Covid as much as required as it has been years since I have spent so long away from the Kingdom.

  2. Avatar

    Stu

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    So where exactly is the opinion? This is just a rehash of previously reported news.

    Where is the opinion of this guy andrew with the unfortunate surname,

  3. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 5:57 pm

    The devil is in the detail.
    Do the tourists have to stop at certain hotels, but not in quarantine?
    Is insurance required? Thai expensive insurance?
    Are tourists required to fly in on certain expensive flights?
    Will tourist have to pay for tests every three days.
    Will a Thai walk ahead of the tourist waving a red flag?
    Will the tourist have to carry a flashing red light at night warning Thais to stay clear.

  4. Avatar

    luca

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    it is a courageous choice if it happens, the risk is that the arrival of a large number of tourists could cause an explosion of infections, it depends on the number of vaccinated among the Thai population, if as expected it will not be enough it is very difficult that they will contain the spread of cases. This shows how important tourism is to the Thai economy, with the information available at the moment it is like playing roulette, I sincerely hope that luck reward courage.

  5. Avatar

    Oonagh Cacioppo

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 7:28 pm

    Having landed in Phuket can you then drive to Krabi?

  6. Avatar

    Issan John

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    Where’s the “opinion”?

  7. Avatar

    Geoff

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    Good news.

  8. Avatar

    ole konig

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    It seems it would be even easier in Samui, with only 67K people, and a real island, only accessible by air or boat. let’s get 100K vaccines and get it done before July 1 lol

  9. Avatar

    Roger Bruce

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 8:25 pm

    Sorry but still too many hoops to jump through to go to Thailand
    Will Thailand be next to start shooting people like their neighbor from demonstrations
    I think many world travelers will have a concern with this and have a wait-and-see attitude as to what happens in Mayanmar and possibly Thailand as all know now Thailand is Military rule same as Mayanmar before not all were aware of this fact.

    Think you will be very disappointed with tourism numbers this year

    Still, the land of Dreamers not smiles

    Good Luck Thailand

  10. Avatar

    Kalim

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 9:31 pm

    What about traveling with children?

  11. Avatar

    James R

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    What about vaccinated people who are outside of Thailand now but own a house in Phuket and wish to go and stay there?

  12. Avatar

    Steve

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 10:31 pm

    Locals earning 40’000 Baht per month impossible. More like 9-15
    6/11 Big C Tesco lotus bank staff hairdressers massage parlour girls people in the catering trade, all on 40k per month please get real! These people are the bread and better workers in the thousands.

  13. Avatar

    Ted

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 10:43 pm

    To both Steve’s, I share your thoughts unfortunately the Thai government doesn’t.

    Remember this; Thai culture is equivalent with a ocean wave [do won’t said forgot ๆ]

  14. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 11:05 pm

    While I’m certainly going to take advantage of the new program. I’m also not going to rush in come July 1. I saw what happen when Hawaii reopened last October, it took almost a month for them to work out the kinks. There we plenty of nightmare story’s about people being sent to quarantine because of wrong paperwork or even worse turning around and flying home. With Thailand’s infamous bureaucracy, it will take at least a month for them and the tourists to sink up together. I’m good with September.

  15. Avatar

    Stevie

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 12:22 am

    Opinion? Where is it Mr. Wood? Also, has this been signed into the Royal Gazette as law yet, or all still approvals without legal stamp? Would hope you would post this firm statement after the opening has been officially signed into the Royal Gazette

  16. Avatar

    LondonAl

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 2:45 am

    If a fully vaccinated, fully tested tourist is allowed into Phuket then why not the rest of Thailand? You’ve either got Covid or you haven’t.

  17. Avatar

    David Mann

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 6:08 am

    What do they mean when they say it’s dependant in 70% of Phuket residents being vaccinated? What defines a “resident”? What about the thousands and thousands of migrant workers from up country that travel to Phuket for work? Will they be vaccinated before they leave Korat or Udon? Will they be vaccinated after they arrive and will they quarantine before working? Will they even be allowed to go to Phuket? Will people returning be allowed to meet their Thai wife, family or girlfriend in Phuket or have to go alone? Or is this just another example of making up what sounds like a good high number(70%) and selling it to the wider Thai, uneducated and unquestioning society as a good plan? It could work but not by July that’s for sure. They need to have 70% of the entire population vaccinated for it to work without a significant risk. And what will they do the first time there’s an outbreak? Will they put the breaks fully on and people mid-air suddenly having a problem? This Covid has still go a long way to go before this approach is sensible I’m afraid. Many many unanswered questions and history tells us that if and when they are answered they will have a Thai logic to them. 2022 seems the realistic option for people.

  18. Avatar

    Mister Stretch

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 8:39 am

    A repetition of what we already know from other news stories, nothing new here, and definitely not an “opinion”.

    I expected more from Mr. Wood.

  19. Avatar

    Ben

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 10:52 am

    The Thais do not see this as risk free. They’re taking a risk by moving forward with this. But it’s a calculated risk in that it applies only to Phuket for now. If successfully executed without negative COVID consequences then they’ll do it in Samui and then the rest of Thailand later this year.

    -70% of the local population must be vaccinated. Estimated to be July 1st. If that’s not achieved then dates will be pushed back.
    -Applies only to the vaccinated. If you have kids that are not vaccinated then they’re not allowed in.

    Life in Bangkok is similar to pre-COVID except people wear masks in crowded areas such as the BTS/MRT and inside malls/buildings. When people go out to eat they wear masks until they sit down then they take them off and everything is normal until they finish their meal and are ready to leave. Went to a bar the last 2 nights and it’s all systems go. Walk in with a mask and then it comes off when I sat down. Mask doesn’t go back on until we were ready to leave. People playing pool, watching sports, drinking, etc and moving around the bar without masks. Bar girls interacting with potential customers same as normal without masks. This is why I endured the bureaucracy and ASQ because I wanted to be in a normal environment without COVID everywhere, like in the USA.

    People in Bangkok are in close proximity to each other similar to NYC. If COVID were to enter the picture it would be devastating. Lots of people being infected and everything being shut down for sure. The city is busy except for the tourist areas like Nana and Cowboy.

    The reason why I’m bringing all this up is I don’t believe the government is going to risk infecting this environment unless they feel confident it won’t. So let’s start with the vaccinated in Phuket and study it before we move on to other parts of Thailand. It’s the logical approach.

    Sorry to those that want to open it up ASAP but it’s not going to happen. Just read stories about devastating COVID situations in Brazil and Papua New Guinea with ICU’s overrun and lot of people dying include the young. Thailand wants money but they’re not going to be stupid about it.

  20. Avatar

    Maverick

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    Positive move in the right direction , will target the Asian market as well as expats who have homes here who have been stuck outside the country due to quarantine requirements, and there will be plenty of those subject of course to airlines stepping up to the plate, which is a big unknown .Most of the direct flights to Phuket from Europe transit through MId East, so airlines wil have to provide secure transit or Uk for example with throw them into quarantine when they return home. The other group who will benefit will be residents who want to travel to see family in UK for example, without having to Quarantine on their return. Baby steps but have to start somewhere, the response of the airlines will provide a clue on take up.

  21. Avatar

    Issan John

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    “Locals earning 40’000 Baht per month impossible”

    Correct, Steve – as a supposed “average” it’s absurd even on rip-off island.

    Like the other figures (down now to 8,000; down soon to 1,984) it was taken incorrectly and completely out of context from a study by Prince of Songkhla Uni by mainstream media (and the Thaiger) and is now trotted out as “fact” even though very obviously it’s absurd nonsense.

    Just the usual widespread bad reporting by the English language press in Thailand, lapped up by those it appeals to however wrong it all too clearly is.

  22. Avatar

    Issan John

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    “I think many world travelers will have a concern with this … as all know now Thailand is Military rule same as Mayanmar before not all were aware of this fact. ”

    Did the military coup in Thailand in 2014 harm tourist numbers, Roger Bruce?

    Or military rule under the NCPO?

    Or previous military coups in Thailand?

    In a word, “no”.

  23. Avatar

    Jason

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    My hope for the people of Phuket is that all this will actually happen.

  24. Avatar

    James R

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 7:46 pm

    Ben

    The way you describe Thailands activity and how they are in close proximity to each other in the millions is true, yet no mass virus figures.

    It must be down to either magic blood or the reports are fiddled.

    When any other country in the world gets its virus figures down and then opens up again like Thailand, the number of cases go sky high, but they do not have magic blood it seems. 🤣

  25. Avatar

    Ben

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 9:59 pm

    The ICU’s are not overrun and there aren’t a lot of dead people from COVID here. And I don’t think it’s magic blood.

    Whenever there is an outbreak here they are on top of it and clamp down quick. We all have to use ThailandPlus so it’s easy to track, trace and notify if there is a COVID outbreak. In the USA there’s so much COVID its impossible to track, trace and notify but in Thailand they actually have a working system that is effective. They’ve also listened to their scientists instead of their tourism/finance people so that’s contributed to their good performance on COVID. James, I have to give the Thai government credit for managing this well and thus allowing most people to live a normal life. Going out to the mall to eat a meal last night the size of the crowd didn’t seem any different than 2018 when I was last in Bangkok.

    Also, there is equipment everywhere to quickly take everyone’s temperature. When you enter every BTS station, at the entrance to every building, etc. And there’s hand sanitizer literally everywhere. Haven’t seen anything like this in the USA.

  26. Avatar

    Steve

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    Ben, thanks for your post. To me it was one of the most sensible and respectful views of what Thailand is trying to do. It’s quite easy for some of the Farang living in Thailand to become jaded etc. but I choose to take the positive path and appreciate very much what Thailand has done for me. No country is perfect but at least they are trying to get things restarted.

  27. Avatar

    Davidnicholls

    Tuesday, March 30, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    So I go to phuket and my girlfriend and my daughter can come down from udon and stay with me for 7 days and then all fly back to udon thani ????

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

A Thailand Covid update that you won’t read in the news

Tim Newton

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A Thailand Covid update that you won’t read in the news | Thaiger

Tim Newton goes through some of the moving goal posts regarding Thailand’s Covid situation RIGHT NOW. Vaccines for expats, what will happen after Songkran, provincial restrictions, new quarantine requirements. Reading the tea leaves and reading between the lines, Tim provides his personal opinions on many issues expats and foreigners in Thailand are worried about at this time.

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Opinion

Tourism developments threaten Cambodia’s forests and coastline

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Tourism developments threaten Cambodia’s forests and coastline | Thaiger
Chinese developer Yeejia has cleared large areas of once-forested land in Cambodia’s Ream National Park for its tourist resorts / Photo by Roun Ry for China Dialogue

The following story is by Danielle Keeton Olsen and Roun Ry for China Dialogue, a nonprofit focused on environmental news related to China and Asia.

“Before when we wanted to eat, we just went and caught some fish, but now it’s nothing like before, as all the natural resources have disappeared,” says 68 year old Sen Chantha who lives in a coastal hamlet within Ream National Park in southwest Cambodia. His house faces the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

The mangrove forests, wetlands and rocky coasts that supported abundant wildlife in the park have also attracted opportunistic developers. Cambodia’s government has granted development rights for mass tourism resorts leading to deforestation and the drainage of ecologically vital mangroves.

“On the way out, you will see many big trucks clearing land all over the place… They’ve started clearing about four kilometres away, and they’ll probably come here,” says Chantha, who has lived in Prek Trabek village since the early 1990s. As forest cover has disappeared, Chantha has become a campaigner, keen to defend his community against a Chinese developer backed by the Cambodian elite.

Rights threatened

Chantha’s family is one of more than 100 in his village engaged in a years-old conflict over land with the Chinese company Yeejia Tourism Development, whose concession surrounds their homes. The company has allowed them to remain in the area, but severely restricted their space to live and work.

55 year old Choeun Trop says Yeejia has taken part of her land and stopped her from collecting rattan from the forest.

Over the past 2 or 3 years, officials from the company have monitored her community tightly, at one point requiring members to carry identification cards and barring outside visitors, she says.

Trop’s son, then 16, is now in jail after joining a protest against Yeejia during which some protestors dismantled a guardhouse at the entrance to the company’s concession.

“We’re poor. It’s been very difficult, and we couldn’t ask anyone to help,” she says. She tried to enlist the support of 2 Cambodian human rights organisations, but both told her they could not intervene. “I cry and cry, and if I cry too much, I’m afraid I will faint again, and no one will take care of my son. My son cries because the situation inside the prison is terrible, and he has a very small space to sleep.”

Forests and wetlands

Ream National Park covers 34,000 hectares of diverse landscapes that include the Prek Toek Sap estuary, low-lying mountains, miles of mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs and parts of two islands.

General forests cover 55% of the land, while mangroves take about 7%. A vital ecosystem for biodiversity, mangroves support many plants, fish and crustaceans, and the fisheries they nurture feed local people.

Elsewhere in the park, remote areas of dry forest, covering 13%, could still conceal one of the last populations of rare wild cattle known as kouprey, according to a 2006 report by University of Copenhagen ecologist Robert Schmidt.

When Ream was established in 1995, it faced significant levels of commercial logging and fishing – at least one-third of its area had already been heavily changed as a result of resource extraction.

Finding ways to stop this was one of the new park’s main concerns, and international organisations, including the Asia Development Bank and the United Nations, were deployed to help find solutions.

Internationally funded projects concentrated on developing a management plan for the park and on training park rangers. Opening the park’s headquarters in late 1998, the then-environment minister, Mok Mareth, promised Ream would be a “role model” for protected areas in the country.

But although the funded projects did manage to end commercial resource extraction, illegal logging and fishing continued to flourish, with corrupt police, navy officers and fishermen combining forces to plunder the park. Then, when international funding ended in 2000, the park was left with very little financial support.

Several reports at the time recommended ecotourism as a way to fund the park. In one from the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia, published in 2001, academic Thanakvaro Thyl de Lopez outlined a “dream park” scenario, in which revenue would be generated through nature-driven tourism, allowing local people living inside the park to continue using its resources in a sustainable way.

But the report warned that this scenario would require the support of international donors, at a time when their programmes had not been renewed due to “lack of interest”.

Developers descend

With the promise of sustainable tourism starting to fade, commercial tourism stepped in.

In June 2008, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed decrees granting concessions to two companies – Yeejia, and Evergreen Success & Asia Resort Development.

Yeejia was given rights over 3,300 hectares of the park, an area they named Golden Silver Bay. When reporters visited the concession in January 2021, they found around a dozen half-built hotel-sized structures, most flanked by Cambodian guards. Outside one of them, a sign reads Qin Yue Ream National Coast in both Khmer and Chinese characters. Further in, patches of newly-paved road led to clearings where rows of identical off-white cottages stood out against the raw, red earth. Another road opened out onto a fresh construction site, where excavators were levelling a hillside, the roots of the remaining trees dangling over the manmade cliffs.

The other company, Evergreen Success & Asia Resort Development, was given a concession of 2,377 hectares.

Evergreen Success is tied to Hun To, a nephew of the prime minister, who has been investigated by the Australian authorities in connection with drug smuggling and money laundering. According to a 2012 report in The Age newspaper, To was of interest to Operation Illipango, an Australian investigation into heroin concealed in Cambodian timber shipments. Plans to arrest To were derailed when the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh cancelled his travel visa.

Powerful connections

To has since become a co-director of the Lixin Group, a Taiwanese construction and property company that has already developed a hotel in Sihanoukville under the US-based brand Wyndham.

Lixin is heavily promoting its “New City” development in Ream National Park. An advertisement on the resort’s WeChat channel from September emphasised the eco-tourism side of the project. But plans for the resort include massive developments inside the park, from a golf resort and a horse racing track to casinos and hotels, all flanked by mangroves.

Yeejia’s rise in Cambodia has also depended on elite contacts. Company chair Fu Xianting’s resumé includes time in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and then in state-owned companies, one of which brought him to Cambodia for a conference on agricultural machinery and light manufacturing.

According to a 2016 Financial Times investigation, Cambodia’s Council of Ministers revoked Fu’s concession in Ream after concerns about forest clearance from environmental groups. But Fu, who has close personal ties to Hun Sen, met with the Cambodian leader and obtained his support for continued development.

Yeejia’s development plans for Golden Silver Bay range from casinos and luxury hotels to a conference centre and medical rehabilitation facilities. Its WeChat social media presence shows it is advertising to Chinese developers seeking a slice of Cambodia, as well as to tourists. In November, Yeejia held a small ground-breaking ceremony with Zhonghai Tianhong Real Estate (Cambodia), which has leased 4 hectares of land from the developer on a 99-year lease – the same timespan as Yeejia’s 2008 concession within the park. This is despite the fact that, according to Cambodian law, concessions cannot be sold to another company without a new contract being drawn up with the government.

Neither Yeejia nor Lixin would respond to requests for comment from China Dialogue.

Ongoing destruction

Beyond the bulldozers currently clearing land in the name of tourism, illegal logging for timber has continued in Ream. Chantha, the community activist, says the state-employed park rangers conduct frequent patrols, but will release loggers who pay them. Chantha has accompanied the patrols and claims to have witnessed bribe-taking.

According to the 2001 de Lopez report, about half of rural households inside the park engaged in illegal logging in the past. Chantha and other villagers admit to cutting trees for their own use before Yeejia officials stopped them.

But things are different now. “The Ministry of Environment officials blame the community for deforestation, but it’s not us,” he says. “It’s someone outside and hired by some oknha (tycoons) or rich businessman to come clear land here.”

Meanwhile, the coast of Ream and the rest of Preah Sihanouk province is also under threat. Ouk Vibol, director of conservation in Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration, says overfishing is a significant challenge, with trawlers scooping up whatever fish they can find, destroying seagrass beds in the process. The loss of mangroves due to the park’s tourism developments is also having a big impact on fish stocks, says Ouk.

“If you destroy one habitat, there are real negative impacts on the species that move from one habitat to another.”

Just outside the national park, a little-known Chinese–Cambodian company, Canopy Sands Development, has undertaken a massive coastal reclamation project on 427 hectares granted by the Cambodian government. The company was formed one month before it received the land. Its shareholders also chair powerful companies in Cambodia, including Prince Group, whose China-born director, Chen Zhi, has obtained Cambodian citizenship through his investments.

This and other developments along the coast, which once boasted waters teeming with lucrative squid, crab and fish, have changed local fishers’ lives.

Docking just north of the Canopy Sands development, 27 year old Chan Ra says he has to be very careful where he drops his fishing lines. The traditional gear he uses to catch squid is made with large shells strung out along a line. The squid nestle into the shells for shelter without the need for bait. The shells are durable but expensive and are often damaged by the sand-dredging boats filling the Canopy Sands area, says Ra. There are still some squid to be found close to the shore, but the fisher says he has to travel further to catch crabs.

Ra lives mostly on his boat these days, because another company has been reclaiming land from the sea on the bay where he used to live. “Before we could reach home by boat, but now they’re filling it with land,” he says.

Ra has had to move three times due to development projects. Like many local people, he built a home without procuring an official land title – a requirement that was seldom enforced until land prices began to climb.

Nowhere is safe

32 year old Nam Then runs a small shop selling sundries on a hillside a couple of kilometres from the entrance to Yeejia’s concession. He has not been directly impacted by the long-running dispute between local people and the Chinese company, whose concession overlaps their customary land. But he shares his neighbours’ concerns and attends meetings about the issue at the Ream commune office.

“We share information around the community,” he says. “We are the same people who have the same affections. I am also living in one part of the community, just in a different area.”

In June last year, the government finally allocated land and promised titles to the three communities in the park affected by Yeejia’s concession. Details have yet to be worked out, however. Then keeps a plastic folder full of documents showing the outlines of plots. Some families are missing out, he says, but he and others are watching the process closely.

Then moved to his current home and shop in 2007 after Ream Naval Academy – part of a military branch that is caught up in controversies over Chinese versus US access – decided to expand into the land near where his family lived.

“Looking back at 2007, we didn’t have anything, the people were weak, information systems didn’t exist, and we were living in a military zone, so when you’re trying to protest, there was big pressure (on us),” he says.

The family’s current home is on the other side of the same mountain. They have remained relatively undisturbed since they moved, but, on a morning in late January, Then told reporters that much of the land facing his house had been cleared. He was not sure what for. When reporters passed his house again at dusk, a digger was forging a new road around the mountain, leading back to the naval academy.

When he first moved in, Then recalls: “It was all forest, huge forest, there wasn’t any road yet.” Now, for the villagers of Ream “it’s very difficult, because the houses are all on company land.”

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Tourism

We took a poll in Phuket… re-opening the island in July

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We took a poll in Phuket… re-opening the island in July | Thaiger

The Thaiger put up a poll on our YouTube channel yesterday. Completely unscientific, but trying to guage some of the viewers opinions about the latest plan, Phuket Sandbox, to open up Phuket, in July this year, as a pilot for future re-openings around Thailand for travellers, without quarantine.

With the government claiming that the plan won’t go ahead unless 70% of the island’s population are already vaccinated against Covid-19, there remains as many questions as there are answers to this plan. What about the expats? What vaccinations will be used? How will the residents be alerted? Who will be the 30% who won’t be vaccinated before July? Where will the vaccinations take place? Which department will manage all the additional ‘vaccination’ paperwork for arrivals? Will passengers still have to apply for visas at the Thai embassy in their country? Will they still have to buy specific insurance policies against Covid-19 before their journey?

At this stage, as a Phuket resident, I have heard NOTHING, nada, zip, zero about this plan. Even searching for information and contacting the Provincial Authority, no additional information is forthcoming. Basically “we haven’t been told yet” was the answer. You’re welcome to add your comments as well HERE.

Obviously it will be great to have some sort of schedule to get ready for re-opening Phuket but vaccinations are only a part of what will be required to make Phuket a viable tourist destination again. But to walk a mile you have to start with a single step, etc, etc.

Here are some of the other responses, out of 280 comments, to our quick poll…

We took a poll in Phuket... re-opening the island in July | News by ThaigerJames
I doubt enough of the folks on Phuket will be willing and able to get vaccinated by July to reach that target.

DaGr8
I have kept in contact with many Thais , some living in the province of Phuket and has not heard anything about this plan, even though the vaccine is being planned for distribution.

Martyn
Doing 70% of residents not good enough. What about everyone else? Most people working there are registered elsewhere. And of course the expats?

Oliver
Will Open Just when the Rain Starts

Lightning
I just don’t see it being sustainable for businesses if you still require to social distance, wear masks and limit the amount of people you are travelling with. More than 70% of Phuket tourists are group travellers. It won’t bring enough numbers in to sustain a business. Open up fully with no quarantine, no social distancing, no masks, no limits on groups, no testing. If these rules are not applied then you can kiss Patong beach and Phuket businesses goodbye forever. But I guess thats what the globalists want right? World longevity? Sustainable environment? Every political move seems based around the World Economic Forum. There is a plan for most countries. Covid is just the gateway to the end goal

Alana
I have not heard anything about where we can get vaccinated here in Phuket. I got an email from Bangkok Hospital to guage interest in the vaccine and the brand you would like to take (last week) but if they are only at that stage of gathering data and ordering vaccines then I don’t think we will reach 70% within 3 months.

Paul
The problem here is other countries are well in front of Thailand on vaccine rollout. And that Burmese undocumented persons problem.. And many older Thais with no ID card. Expect chaos corruption.. and delay. And ideas changing every 14 days. Phuket is finished as a tourist destinations for the foreseeable future. Mal-administration is Thailand’s problem.

Trader
I can’t see that there will be free and open travel until 2022 at the earliest, I hope I’m proven incorrect but at this point I don’t see it.

Shahbaz
Just another ‘plan’/ ‘model’ made out of desperation as a result of missing tourist dollars, the Thai government should implement measures that are genuinely meant for the safety of the Thais and the tourists, not just act out of desperation to get the go go bars rolling again, any step they take should be credible and long term, not one that is going to jeopardise peoples health just to make money 🤔 so no point rushing ✌

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