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First flight arrives in Phuket under revised “Thailand Pass”

Tara Abhasakun

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Phuket’s first arrival flight under the Thailand Pass updated ‘eased’ restrictions has arrived! A flight from Qatar carrying with 324 passengers landed at Phuket International Airport this morning, and an airport director said 4,482 travellers in total are expected to arrive today.

The director said that throughout May, an average of 27 flights per day were expected to arrive at Phuket as confirmed by 21 airlines. Today’s passengers reportedly took about 17 minutes to go through the required arrival procedures. They were welcomed by a team of staff lead by the director of the Phuket International Airport, and officials from the immigration, customs, and international disease control offices.

The news comes as Thailand massively eased its entry requirements today. No Covid-19 testing is required for vaccinated travellers (either before travel or on arrival), and unvaccinated travellers can either submit a negative PCR test result issued within 72 hours before travelling, or quarantine for 5 days in an Alternative Quarantine hotel.

In pre-Covid days, Phuket made most of its money from tourism, by far. The arrival flight today was probably a reason to celebrate for employers and workers at hotels, restaurants, street vendors, and several other businesses whose incomes have been slashed by the Thai government restrictions to control the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phuket was the first to come up with a ‘quarantine-free’ re-entry procedure for Thailand last year – the ‘Sandbox’ – on July 1. It eventually morphed into the much debate Thailand Pass, which still exists now, but in a much diluted form.

Getting rid of any pre-travel or on arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers is seen as a huge step towards fully re-opening Thailand’s battered tourist industry and its reputation as a haven for South East Asian tourism.

Phuket officials have scrambled to find ways to revive its tourism economy. This year, they have organised 2 seafood festivals, and an event with hot air balloons at the Sarasin Bridge, linking Phuket to the mainland. These events were meant to generate income for the island’s farmers and vendors. With a tourist influx expected from this month, we’ll see what Phuket officials have in store next.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

 

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    A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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