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Phuket to open on July 1 – first in Thailand

Thaiger

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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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