Thailand’s Tourism Minister says the first 14 days of the Phuket sandbox will determine if other tourist destinations can re-open as planned from July 15. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn acknowledges there were some hiccups with the re-opening: some of the 500 tourists expected to arrive yesterday ended up postponing because of delays getting a Certificate of Entry. The Bangkok Post reports that according to Phiphat, this has now been resolved.
Tourists landing in Phuket as part of the sandbox scheme need to have all their documents checked and be tested for Covid-19. Phiphat says this process shouldn’t take more than half an hour and tourists can wait at their hotel for the test result. The current practice at the airport is to split arriving passengers into 6 groups to manage the flow. Health Ministry officials are currently checking documents manually but this is likely to be done electronically after the first 14 days.
Yesterday, a total of 366 international arrivals arrived, although 44 of those were not sandbox participants but were transit passengers or unvaccinated tourists going into quarantine. The first 25 arrived on Etihad Airways, followed by 136 on Qatar Airways, 137 on El Al Israel Airlines, and 68 on Singapore Airlines.
Phiphat says the sealed route scheme planned for Koh Samui on July 15 can go ahead provided there is no outbreak of Covid-19 on Phuket within the coming 2 weeks. It is then hoped that re-opening schemes for Krabi and Phang Nga can proceed in August. However, should Phuket experience an outbreak in the next 2 weeks, the sandbox scheme will come to an end.
“The Phuket sandbox cannot fail because we fought so hard to make it happen. The plan provides hope for operators and raises confidence we are ready to bring back tourists.”
Phiphat says the re-opening of the whole country by mid-October will depend on the vaccine rollout but that efforts will be made to re-open by Bangkok by then.
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SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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