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Officials predict 600,000 tourists to Phuket following reopening



PHOTO: After reopening, officials predict 600,000 tourists in Phuket. (via Bao Menglong on Unsplash)

Despite recent predictions lowering expectations to between 9,000 and 10,000 international arrivals in July, and about 7,000 tickets booked in the latest available statistics, officials announced they expect more than 600,000 tourists to arrive between July and September after the reopening of Phuket. The ambitious prediction comes with an expectation of about 15 billion baht in revenue for the financially devastated island.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects to pull off these numbers by attracting an estimated 129,000 international travellers arriving over the next 3 months as the Phuket Sandbox reopens the borders and a prediction of about half a million domestic Thai tourist coming to the island.

All eyes are on Phuket right now, scheduled to open in about 10 days as the first step to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s announced 120-day reopening plan announced earlier this week. The island province will be the first in the nation to reopen without a full quarantine requirement for travellers who have already been vaccinated, though a host of rules including not being allowed to leave the island for 2 weeks and wearing a tracking device have pushed away many potential visitors.

A lot is riding on this reopening though, as government officials intend to use this model all over the country to try to start a post-pandemic tourism economy again. Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew says that the island is hopeful for a smooth reopening and for a start to rebuilding from the damage that Covid-19 did to the island’s economy which is heavily tourist-dependent.

“Our main goal is to be able to revive the local economy and prevent the spread of the pandemic at the same time. We hope we can show people in Phuket and in other parts of the country what benefit they will gain from the reopening.”

The Sandbox reopening comes with many safety measures and restrictions in place with hopes of preventing another Covid-19 outbreak. Some argue that it’s too many restrictions, preventing freedom and enjoyment and turning travellers off to the idea of visiting Phuket. Only those that have been fully vaccinated and arrive from low to medium risk countries will be permitted to enter and only after testing negative for Covid-19. There they will have to stay in Phuket for two weeks before being allowed to travel elsewhere. The harsh restrictions are meant to avoid yet another Covid-19 lockdown after reopening Phuket.

Still though, El Al, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, in Singapore Airlines have all scheduled flights arriving on July 1st, hundreds of businesses are getting SHA Plus certifications, and three-quarters of the 70% target has had at least their first vaccine with just over 40% receiving 2 doses. tourist businesses are preparing in hopes of the successful arrival of international tourists to Phuket in the reopening.

People are working together and excited to make the Phuket Sandbox reopening a success, and serve as a guideline for other tourist destinations to follow. Koh Samui and its surrounding islands are aiming to reopen July 15, and Pattaya is launching an ambitious bid to reopen on August 1.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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