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Phuket aims to vaccinate 70% of population, re-open to foreign tourists by October

Maya Taylor




Phuket is going it alone as it eyes herd immunity as the only lifeline for its devastated tourism industry. Business groups on the southern resort island have announced a plan to finance the vaccination of 70% of the island’s population, in the hope of being able to open to foreign tourists from October. The groups involved, which include the Phuket Tourism Association and the Phuket Chamber of Commerce, say they cannot afford to wait for the government’s national vaccine rollout, although their plan will still require government approval.

Business groups say they plan to pool resources to fund the vaccination of 70% of over 18s in the hope this will give the local population herd immunity and enable the island to re-open to international tourism by October. As part of the plan, called “Phuket First October”, the current mandatory 14-day quarantine would be waived for vaccinated arrivals. The president of the Phuket Tourism Association, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, says tourism on the island won’t survive much longer without such an initiative.

“We can’t wait any longer. If we have to wait, we won’t survive. If we miss this winter peak season, we’d have to wait another year.”

The tourism groups plan to procure supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Chinese Sinovac vaccine, which is expected to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration this month. The government’s national rollout is not expected to grant the Kingdom herd immunity until 2022 and meanwhile, the current 14-day quarantine is proving a significant hurdle for the tourism industry. Markland Blaiklock from the Centara Hotels & Resorts group says tourism operators hope this latest plan might lead to quarantine requirements being lifted for vaccinated tourists arriving in Phuket.

“People aren’t going to come to Thailand for business or for a 2-week vacation if they have to spend 2 weeks in quarantine on arrival. So, we really hope that they can be relaxed.”

William Heinecke, from hotel group Minor International, has called on the government to add tourism workers to the priority list for vaccines, along with frontline workers and healthcare staff.

Those behind the initiative to achieve herd immunity for Phuket say it could be a pilot for lifting quarantine restrictions in other parts of the country. Bhummikitti says tourism operators on the island are taking matters into their own hands in the fight for survival.

“Phuket has always been a huge contributor to the Thai economy. Today, we’re standing up to take control of the situation. We don’t have a lot of money now but we’re giving one last push, hoping that this will save us.”

SOURCE: Bloomberg


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  1. Avatar


    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 9:50 am

    In fact, most vaccines don’t fully protect against infection, even if they can block symptoms from appearing. As a result, vaccinated people can unknowingly carry and spread pathogens. Occasionally, they can even start epidemics.

    “Effective” or “sterilizing” immunity

    There are two main types of immunity you can achieve with vaccines. One is so-called “effective” immunity, which can prevent a pathogen from causing serious disease, but can’t stop it from entering the body or making more copies of itself. The other is “sterilizing immunity”, which can thwart infections entirely, and even prevent asymptomatic cases. The latter is the aspiration of all vaccine research, but surprisingly rarely achieved.

    • Avatar


      Friday, February 5, 2021 at 8:52 am

      Your point is what exactly in this ever evolving situation?

    • Avatar

      Peter Nielsen

      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 8:28 am

      Pfizer and Moderna are nearly 100% effective, why there is no reason to vaccinate others than those who wish it. Why then use tons of money vaccinating a whole population? The Thai government can just offer the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to those who want it, and let the rest go free, as those who get it is nearly 100% protected. Why on Earth are people talking about so many getting vaccinated??

  2. Avatar


    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 10:21 am

    So, for a random and undefined period visitors from the rest of the country will also have to be vaccinated to enter; or have I missed something here?

  3. Avatar


    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 10:33 am

    Good thinking. Cobblers to the government and it’s ineptitude. It will be interesting to see how the gov. reacts to this suggestion, and to see how it dovetails into the rest of the world’s vacc. programmes, quarantines etc.

  4. Avatar


    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 10:38 am

    talk is cheap-in thailand the vaccine won’t be. If and when Phuket gets 70K X 2 doses who pays? But good luck with your plan and good luck getting the army to allow no quarantining for Phuket exclusively

    • Avatar


      Friday, February 5, 2021 at 8:51 am

      I thought Phuket was covered by the navy?

  5. Avatar


    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 10:42 am

    It’s really the old Phuket plan without the quarantine and with a vaccine. The government already approved that plan so they must think the island can be secured and supplied. The real issue is can the business groups come up with the vaccines in time to get everyone vaccinated by September first. If needed you could easily add some pre and even post testing. The trick is getting rid of the quarantine or no one will show.

  6. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 10:42 am

    They could seal off the island as is done with 40000 migrant workers in Samut Sakhon.
    Why not Phuket was sealed before.
    Any tourists entering have to be vaccinated in their home countries. And no quarantine
    They should take the risk and return to making a living.

    • Avatar


      Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 10:57 am

      How about children below 16 ?

  7. Avatar


    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 11:15 am

    How about the foreign tourist stranded here? Especially the older ones?

    • Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 11:43 am

      When I suggest seal off the island, I do not mean seal off international travel out.
      On the island, vaccinate the older expats.
      The vaccine is in Thailand already. The Thais are selling it at B3000 a shot.
      B2250 to Thais, of course . . .
      I would bet that a vaccine could be bought online – anyone checked EBay?

      • Avatar


        Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 1:07 pm

        They say you can get your shot in most of the 7/11 !!!!!!

        • Avatar

          Toby Andrews

          Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 2:58 pm

          I discovered a business in Thailand that sell shots for everything Rabies, Hepatitis, they would have the covid vaccine I suppose.

      • Avatar

        Creighton Alan

        Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 10:00 pm

        That’s Thailand most likely a water in jection 3000 bat

      • Avatar


        Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 10:28 pm

        I agree with Toby. They should make the investment of about $10M and obtain the vaccine if possible. The government should support this effort by helping seal off the island or they’ll end up paying more later to revive everything. They’ve been through a war and might as well start rebuilding as soon as possible.

        Although Phuket currently is a shell of its former self, the lure for tourists is less crowds, unspoiled beaches, etc. I know a Thai from BKK that went there a week ago and thought it was paradise.

    • Avatar

      David Mann

      Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 5:10 pm

      No such thing as stranded tourists. If you wanted to go home you could

      • Avatar


        Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 5:16 pm

        Many tourists, especially older ones do not have a death wish flying on a plane or making connections thru airports. Many, like us, came on our yachts (our only home) from Malaysia. Malaysia sea ports have been closed since 18th March and Indonesia ports are also closed.

  8. Avatar


    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 11:29 am

    they don’t seem to understand that’s not only the 14 day quarantine that is holding back tourism, big number of people are in lockdown in many countries, lost jobs or are just to scared to travel. This isn’t as simple as getting herd immunity And million of intl tourist will miraclesly get on a plane and throw around money to save the tourist areas

    • Avatar


      Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 11:45 am

      Phuket is not attractive in many ways. Locals who want to shoot foreigners with slingshots, corrupt officials, crazy truck, bus and mini bus drivers, generic physical assault on foreigners, piss poor infrastructure and overpricing in general from both locals and foreigners. Why would Scandinavians go to Phuket during the winter season when other countries with similar climate offer better safety and competitive prices? The hoteliers et al needs a serious reality check.

      • Avatar

        Peter Nielsen

        Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 8:38 am

        Because the Thai people are more charming than people of other cultures. And you know that.

    • Avatar


      Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 11:50 am

      Agreed but they need to open for high season or it’s game over. Keeping in mind we are talking about October, by then many countries will have vaccinated a large portion of their population. I’d be willing to bet the majority of Europe will open for vaccinated tourists before then. Some countries like Italy are shooting for the start of summer. I’m the first to say the numbers will not be huge, but it’s either so something or close for good.

      • Avatar

        Stefano Beconcini

        Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 3:25 pm

        October which year?

        • Avatar

          J West

          Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 5:39 pm

          5555! Is Phuket under an information dome? No it isn’t, so, sounding off, pleading desperation, tough talk and talking stupid doesn’t cut it. The new reality is here and you’d better get yourself ready to ride it out.

          Fact: Covid restrictions internationally are increasing. Governments around the world are coordinating closures, not planning reopening, least of all for open tourism. Especially now that fast spreading evolving variants are creating havoc with vaccine distributions and increasing the body count.

          To all effected, suck it up, or shut it down. Phuket tourism may die for years….sad but true. It might never come back to what it was in the final months of 2019. Pole dancers might have to ” bai baan”….and get married to a regular guy. Hotels will close down permanently . Mafia guys will crawl away. The virus doesn’t care about your investment….nor do the responsible people working to save lives.

          • Avatar

            London Al

            Friday, February 5, 2021 at 2:42 am

            What a load of rubbish, so sick of the doom mongers.

          • Avatar


            Friday, February 5, 2021 at 8:57 am

            ps where’s IJ when you need him?

    • Avatar


      Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 3:51 pm

      If they reopen tomorrow the best they can get are some influencer taking selfies on a deserted beach, mass tourism maybe next year.

      • Avatar


        Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 9:16 pm

        Do you know what you are taking about? Scandinavia with TUI send 23 planes a week from the Nordic countries to Phuket. Russia sends 12 a week. Most of the problems are drunk tourists. November to March is full of Scandinavians escaping the cold. If they did not like it here would they come?

  9. Avatar

    Jesus Monroe

    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Sounds great……now if only I can get my country to open it’s border they indicated will be closed all of 2021

  10. Avatar

    Robert Bunker

    Friday, February 5, 2021 at 2:09 am

    Not sure what planet some people are on.

    Given the impetus of the vaccination process and increasing evidence that vaccines also substantially reduce transmission, pace of change with regard to economic factors is incrasing dramatically – a week can make a huge difference to the outlook – talking planning in terms of quarters, or years, is crazy; economies that miss the boat vis a vis change that is taking place risk serious long term damage and decline imho.

    Scared of flying / travel? All that anyone i know here in UK cares about (having been truly in the U-bend less than 2 months ago) is getting jabbed and then getting the hell out of the UK on holiday. Money is not an issue for many – huge amount of the population have been furloughed and have saved money over the past year. Today’s Telegraph reports that both Spain and Greece will be open by June. Denmark and Sweden look to be first out of the blocks with a digital vaccination passport to load onto phones by June – UK politicans will fall over backwards to ensure they are seen to be up there in the first wave.

    I would bet money that a large proportion of Europe will be open by summer. By early September latest (when the schools go back) i think there will be an explosion in demand from those in 40’s/50’s/60’s and up to go for long haul extended breaks (the only blocker – and a fundamental one at that – will be quarantine if still in place).

    First country to seize the initiative out in S.E. Asia and buy shed loads of Sputnik or SinoVac and do a Phuket plan on steroids in all major touriwt areas will reap huge benefits ( if they have the balls to announce forward re-opening to allow flight resumption etc) in terms of speed of economic recovery – as is being forecast today by Bank of England for the UK with all over 50’s expected to be vaccinated by April.

    Not going to hold my breath but would dearly love it to be Thailand. I really do think that the countries that do not react swiftly and boldly will pay dearly for being left behind.

  11. Avatar

    Mr cynic

    Friday, February 5, 2021 at 9:00 am

    Any sensible government will vaccinate front line medical staff and the vunerable as a priority irrespective of where they live.
    The vaccine is in short supply and the people of Phuket trying to buy their way to the front of the queue to save their failing tourism industry is unlikely to be viewed favourably by anybody anywhere outside Phuket.
    It would appear that the self centred greed and stupidity that the islands taxi drivers and jet ski operators are world famous for does not start and end there.

  12. Avatar

    Issan John

    Friday, February 5, 2021 at 10:29 am

    There is absolutely zero chance of Phuket being able to buy sufficient doses of vaccines to vaccinate the population of Phuket, or even 70% of it.

    Whether you could isolate the island or the tourists would come doesn’t matter – it’s all academic if the vaccines aren’t available in sufficient quantity commercially, and they’re not nor will they be for the foreseeable future.

    It’s just tub-thumping – pointless BS to be seen to be doing something even if there’s nothing they can do.

  13. Avatar


    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 9:01 am

    You guys always give me a chuckle with your serious facts and percentages and sage opinions about how things are going to work out , who is in control and what respective Governments around the world are thinking and are likely to do. I’ll have to contact the WHO and the CDC and tell them their experts are all wrong and the Thaiger News Forum has all the answers. I guess you just got nothing better to talk about lol.

  14. Avatar


    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    1. produce vaccine, takes many years.
    1.2 for, sars cov1, 2003 / 18 years, and other (5 ?) corona-virus-types,
    no vaccine. but now, after some months, there is a vaccine ?
    1.3 are most people worldwide, not immune already,
    because those viruses, are very similar ( 80% ? ) to each other ?
    2. much money and much experts, for produce vaccine,
    is now together ? most or all, small and big, producers,
    have the same, few owners ( together, owner share )
    blackRock, vanguard, fidelity (and, state street, morgan),
    owns, most in world, also, google with youtube, facebook, twitter, microsoft, etc.
    examples: pfizer, moderna, johnson & johnson.
    2.2 bill gates, spent much money for producing, for and over, years.
    also warned the humanity, viruses are one of the biggest threats.
    so, enough time, for all to prepare.
    3. trust vaccine = trust banks ( investment corporations ), not ?
    3.2 bank interest, cost billions usd, yearly, for most countries,
    for decades. found a state /national -bank = no interest to pay.
    use that money for education and health, = most or all,
    are not in danger, of getting diseases.
    4. this vaccine is different to other vaccines.
    moderna ( big vaccine producer in world ), say, vaccine /mRna =
    app, program, operating system as a computer.
    4.2 and has to evading the immune system. see after, 2. and 4. titel.
    4.3 merck ( big vaccine producer in world ),
    stopped to develop a vaccine. see 1. title
    5. governments, news, experts at news,
    companies /economy -bosses, non governmental organisations, etc.
    work together, for many years. uno, eu, g20, who, etc.
    5.2 now, they want a, great reset,
    see at 2-3 passage. not own, this and that.
    5.3 fuse, body and technology / physical and digital
    both, = more control and more monitoring, by them.

    5.4 they, never ask, millions, and millions not vote, them.
    5.5 most per country, not vote and not interested in politics,
    but majority per country, decide by votes ?
    6. rich class /people, started a war. see passage 6
    6.2 bank say, healthy people, not good for, business.
    6.3 those people, also want to help,
    millions per country, to be healthy / safe ?
    i have to believe that ? believe is never to know.
    7. question is not, how dangerous any virus is,
    ( pcr and antiBody -tests, never proof, if you
    got or get sick, or will die. news trustworthy ?
    old/sick people die soon, because interest money, is paid first ),
    7.2 question is, what people really want in life,
    7.3 and if, to be led by fear, is a good choice.
    7.4 but, I got, everything (1-7), wrong, yes ?
    better, most people, think carefully about, again.

    • Avatar


      Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 9:35 am

      total bs

    • Avatar


      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      Is TheThaiger really moderating the comments or just approving all bs?

      I’ve never read so much nonsense.

  15. Avatar


    Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 7:14 am

    I rest my case……

    • Avatar


      Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 8:46 am

      Yeh, they need a new hobby. Does anyone actually read all of that stuff?

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