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As the clock ticks down, Phuket’s sandbox plan moves a step closer to approval

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Bao Menglong on Unsplash

The Thai PM says the cabinet has agreed in principle to the Phuket sandbox scheme, which will see the southern island re-open to vaccinated tourists from July 1. Quarantine will be waived for fully vaccinated international arrivals from a yet-to-be-determined list of “safe” countries.

However, they will have to spend 14 days on the island before being allowed to travel elsewhere. There is a shorter stay option, but tourists would then need to depart on an international flight from Phuket. They will also be required to book an approved hotel for their Phuket stay, although they will be free to move around the island.

The sandbox scheme, first proposed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, is being piloted in Phuket ahead of a planned re-opening of 9 other popular tourism destinations in the country. According to a Bangkok Post report, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says the plan has been approved in principle by the Centre for Economic Situation Administration. He adds that around 400,000 Phuket residents have been vaccinated ahead of the re-opening.

International tourists who wish to visit Phuket will however need to fulfill a long list of requirements, including having proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19. They will also need a Certificate of Entry from their nearest Thai embassy, and will be required to take a number of Covid-19 tests while on the island.

Despite all the talk from central government and the TAT, tourism operators on Phuket remain doubtful about how successful the re-opening might be, with many saying all the rules and restrictions associated with the scheme will put people off travelling.

It’s understood that CESA will review the proposed sandbox scheme 1 more time before it then gets re-submitted to Cabinet for final approval. Phuket is scheduled to re-open in 3 weeks’ time.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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