Best-case for Phuket’s Sandbox: up to 1.2 million tourists, Kasikorn predicts

Stock photo by Arkady Lukashov for Unsplash

Up to 1.2 million foreign tourists could travel to Thailand through Phuket’s “Sandbox” travel scheme. That’s the best-case scenario, according to the Kasikorn Research Centre. They estimate that the scheme, which is planned to allow vaccinated tourists to enter the country and stay on the island without going through quarantine, could draw in 550,000 people to 1.2 million from July 1 to the end of the year. The worst-case scenario… only 250,000 tourists arrive in the next 6 months.

Under Phuket’s Sandbox model, travellers who are vaccinated against the coronavirus can enter the island province without undergoing the 14-day quarantine. The tourists will need to stay on the island for 14 days before travelling to other provinces. Upon arrival, tourists entering through Phuket’s Sandbox programme must present proof that they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as well as a negative Covid-19 test result issued no more than 72 hours before departure.

“From July 1 until the end of 2021, the sandbox campaign will bring in from 550,000 to 1.2 million foreign tourists in the best-case scenario, in which there are no new cluster cases emerging in the province…. However, in the worst-case scenario, the number of foreign tourists is predicted at around 250,000. These predictions could vary, depending on the Covid-19 situation, the vaccination rate and the confidence of foreign tourists in Thailand’s ability to control the outbreak.”

The plan, first proposed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, has been approved in principle by the Centre for Economic Situation Administration, according to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. The island province has been accelerating the local Covid-19 immunisation campaign in an effort to vaccinate 70% of the isalnd’s population and reach herd immunity by the end of the month.

Tourism overall is expected to improve next year as the country aims to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus. The centre expects domestic tourism to improve first as health officials roll out vaccinations and contain cluster outbreaks.

“Once the country’s overall outbreak situation improves, Thais will start travelling and spending domestically, which will help other related industries, such as transportation and retail.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tanutam Thawan

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.


  1. Without any changes, I think even 250,000 is out of reach.

    You can’t leave the island for 14 days and many of the entertainment venues remain closed.

    There are better destinations in SE Asia for foreigners without the uncertainty of what the government is going to do next.

  2. Their worst case scenario is too optimistic. The restrictions on movement, the use of a tracking app, the constant supervision & repeated swabbings are bad enough. But to have no nightlife such ss bars, clubs & other places of entertainment is nothing less than ludicrous. No one is going to schlep from Europe or the US to spend 14 days in North Korea.

  3. Optimistic, I would bet my money at 50 000 tourists will come to Phuket, until end of this year. Sure I also want to see 1.2 million, but have my feet on the ground not in the clouds like the daydreaming government.

  4. Focus on the entire Kingdom, not only the Island of the Greedy, Fuket. The locals put their bet on mass tourism and they had a run for more than a decade. The rich people of Fuket should invest some of their profit into sustainable tourism etc; its a long shot – I know, but better late than never.

  5. They will not even reach the bad case 250000. Count only the toirists and not the long stay forreigners or Thais returning via Phuket to avoid prison like ASQ in Bangkok or Pattaya.

    Sandbox was a good plan but its a very bad execution. Too many hurdles.

  6. What is the point in achieving 70% vaccination in Phuket which is supposed to be herd immunity then asking everyone to jump thru all these hoops & have all these restrictions? Clearly foreign tourists are not wanted.

  7. Does anybody really believe that there are hundreds of thousand persons waiting with baited breath to visit the co-vid free island of Phuket, where there are no bars or entertainment venues open, alcohol is banned even in restaurants and visiting local resident friends is banned, enforced 14 day hotel booking in approved hotels but cannot stay in their own villas or apartments. To top this all its the rainy season with often daily thunder storms and high sea swell all along the west coast.

  8. do you still need a CEO a certificate of entry,beside being vaccinated and a negative covid test 72 hours for departure,it appears bank Statistician know better than a fortune teller

  9. I would posit that a best case scenario for foreign tourists would be 50-100k

    250k – 1mill is not going to happen.

    The Chinese can’t come.
    Europe isn’t coming – they need quarantine on return.
    That leaves the rest of Asia, and Russia. Russia possibly may work, although it depends on their covid situation also. Russian tourist companies like Pegasus were mostly concentrating on Vietnam quite heavily, there is a possibility that will change as Vietnam doesn’t look like its opening up anytime soon.

  10. They know this latest plan won’t work. I think what they really want to do is postpone the plan for one or two months, but that will cause loss of face. So they have poured cold water in the idea to the point where it fails. I think come August or maybe September they will open bars (limited hours) and cut the 14 days to 10 or 7. PCR before you arrive and another if you wish to go elsewhere in Thailand. They will also allow travel to surrounding tourist places Koh Phi Phi etc. It’s typical Thai thinking. That way it’s not failed. They met the date and yet it’s also essentially been postponed.

  11. I don’t think it’s going to work to go to Phuket because let’s face it you need a lot of papers besides expensive hotels insurance foe 100,000 US $ no alcohol, plus 3 times covid19 test , why is this if you are fully vaccinated few people will come with these restrictions many people I know are having their holidays on the coasts of the blue Mediterranean Sea with no quarantine , think of this before it’s too late and their holiday will be the price from Thailand

  12. Far lower than TAT predictions but still too optimistic. The deal breaker for me is ban on alcohol and that all public relation girls are back to issan. If I need to travel to see beautiful landscapes and sunshine I just go near home to south of france, no need to waste time traveling one day in airplanes

  13. @小杜 – Russians can’t come because their sputnik V vaccin note recognized by WHO and Thailand ! Europeans can travel all europe with no restriction, this is good for people coming for few month better than to be in jail room hotel in Bangkok

  14. I am still thinking of going to Phuket as a gateway but it’s the thought of wearing a mask on a deserted beach that gets me I will have a mask tan line
    And what about swimming in the sea with mask ? It will be like waterboarding!

  15. yep, lots of public relations girls from Pattayuk and Scamket are back here in sleepy old Issan. Saul Goodman! Face it prayut&co: temple hopping and beach sunsets were never the major tourist attractions. It was always about the joie de vivre of the beautiful Thais which you are managing to squelch. And your stupid regulations for the shitebox plan are a non starter. Get your Thai citizens jabbed with their preferred vaccines pronto (and not with the sino or thai az.) Get a lid on the infection rate. Drop the quarantine and 100k covid insurance for vacced arrivals. Only then even think about large numbers of foreign tourists arriving for a carefree holiday in 2 or 3 years. Maybe. Hope you are out by then,bonding with your fabulous watch collection

  16. Did someone actually get paid to come up with those numbed? Talk about getting fleeced. I’d go with the worse case and hope for the best. For a country that claims they want tourists to return, Thailand sure has a funny way to show it. Could they make the country any more unattractive or difficult to visit? Might as well stay shut at this point, except for the sputtering economy of course.

  17. 1.2m in 6 months is an average of 6,500 arriving every single day. If each flight had say 200 passengers it would mean 32 fully laden flights landing every day. Its doubtful that number of flights are even scheduled. Add in the worldwide travel restrictions that still exist, and the local restrictions, and the whole idea seems very unlikely.

  18. Thailand should by now realize, they doomed with all their ‘dreams expectations… maybe time to look in your own country there are already foreigners here.. make it easier for them like make an easy nomad visa instead if toilet paper visas.. digging their own grave already since the covid with dreams

  19. well, they should better to wait for the world herd immunity, otherwise one infected dude may create an other big cluster. it seems the vaccine effect are no well knew anyway. some said it does reduce the severe case but does not stop you to catch it or transmit it.

    so is this a possible scenario: 72 hours before to go you do the test (negative) and during these 72 hours you meet an infected dude then you go to travel for 3 weeks and spread your bugs everywhere …….and it s become a circle again and again ……


  20. Mandatory masks having to be worn at all times both indoors and out, a government tracking app on your phone, all bars and entertainment venues closed, tested for Covid 3 times during your 14 day stay even though you’re vaccinated, frequent visits to health authorities mandated and only staying in designated (expensive) hotels.

    You’d have to be pretty desperate to get back to Thailand to want to go through all that 🙂

  21. @Simon Small. Well a couple of extra months would at least allow them to properly vaccinate 80% of adults in Phuket with both doses. July is simply not enough time. I agree that it really requires at least 6 months delay. But like most countries they are trying to push the boundaries and keep businesses hopeful and hence available as and when it does open. It’s a cynical ploy by the government, but the Thais are not the only ones playing this game with their hospitality industry.

  22. As of RIGHT NOW(!) The Thai embassies in US, do not recognize the Sandbox scheme.
    A Thai embassy employee emailed me that they have no official directions on it, and their COE application tool has no way to input Sandbox SVA+ only hotels.
    So we wait.

  23. “Well a couple of extra months would at least allow them to properly vaccinate 80% of adults in Phuket with both doses”

    Not now that Sinovac have said that to be “properly vaccinated” you need THREE doses, @Nigel, not two!

    … and the expert view now is that depending on the vaccine you need 85% vaccinated for herd immunity (Israel vs the Seychelles) – and Phuket hasn’t allowed for any “returning staff” from the provinces who are very unlikely to be vaccinated at all.

  24. I guess I will never understand Thailand’s preoccupation and fixation with Phuket! Is it like Thailan’s “Dr Morrow’s Island” thing?! Their little petri dish experiment? Glad I am not there!

  25. Overall, the plan will work. Initially it has never been thought of as a mass-tourism plan. It’s a test, you have to start somewhere, at first it will not be the tourist, but people who want to get back long term, people with families or homes here. These are the kind of people that would have done the normal 14 day lock-down ASQ in BKK but now can do a semi-quarantine for 14 days with a bit of freedom and can probably bring down the spouses or girlfriend/boyfriend and then move on to other places. Wait for the normal high season, Nov-Feb, the rules will have changed, more of the country will have been vaccinated, more of the world will have been vaccinated.

  26. Why there is a kind of silence on the fact that even vaccinated people have to sleep in a CERTIFIED HOTEL for 2 weeks . This is the main decision which will repel people to come in phuket and even to cancel their trip if already booked .
    Why not to make a test on arrival , another one after 7days full stop. Use also tracking application.

  27. Another wild guess by Kasikorn!Tourists want to enjoy their holidays,but with a slew of restrictions and conditions,they will be discoraged. Even though Thailand offers a wide variety,as it has been a popular destination for tourists for decades,they may have to give it a pass for now. Perhaps,it may happen towards the end of 2021,if the situation improves tremendously.

  28. Why do people make things up as it is easy to check things out.

    Moaning commentators on this site keep on saying “Rip off hotels in Phuket”.

    Agoda for instance, there are three star hotels available from the 1st to 31st July (for example) at 315 Baht per night and five star hotels at 1350 Baht per night for two people both hotels include breakfast.

    The hotels are SHA certified.

    My plan is to book and pay for the £7 per night option but go and stay in my house in Kathu instead.

    I am not sure if I will have to sleep in the hotel but I do know I can travel freely in Phuket so I could just drive to the hotel at night to sleep.

    I suppose there will be lots of returning farangs using this scheme in the same way.

  29. i live in thailand but retuned to usa for moderna vaccines.i will not return under the phuket catbox plan..bug joke. i have booked greece,spain,portugal then family in thailand will have to wait for me until thai authorities wakeup and go more broke and desperate

  30. 1.2 million can’t be achieved even with pre pandemic conditions. International travel is not going to come back to Thailand as it is shifting to Americas and Europe. I wish good luck to the Thai people and hope Thailand will invest in other industries to regain its GDP lost by international travelers.

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