Businesses on the southern island of Phuket have welcomed the government’s approval of a quarantine-free re-opening for vaccinated foreigners from July 1. From that date, Phuket will become the first province to waive mandatory quarantine for international arrivals who have been vaccinated against Covid-19. The re-opening is expected to generate over 84 billion baht.
Like many parts of the country that are heavily reliant on tourism, Phuket has been hit hard by the pandemic. Before Covid-19, the island welcomed between 70,000 and 80,000 foreign visitors every day. According to a report in the Bangkok Post, it now gets only around 10,000 visitors, most being Thai. While welcoming news of the imminent re-opening, Thanusak Phungdet from the Phuket Chamber of Commerce says it’s essential to vaccinate 70% of the local population before then.
“We have to procure more vaccines and Phuket residents must cooperate by receiving the vaccine. Once Phuket re-opens to tourists from July 1, local tourism is expected to have a cash flow of 84 billion baht.”
He adds that the re-opening won’t lead to a flood of foreign tourists right away, but it will also help tourism beyond Phuket.
“We expect about 100,000 foreign tourists to arrive in Phuket in the next 5 months. With the re-opening to foreign tourists, income may increase by only 20-30%, but this will also boost the national tourism industry because the foreign tourists in Phuket may also visit other provinces.”
Under the Phuket re-opening plan, or “sandbox” proposal, the island must achieve herd immunity by vaccinating 70% of its population before mandatory quarantine is waived for international visitors. This means at least 466,587 people need to receive 2 vaccine doses. In order to make the July 1 deadline, the vaccine rollout needs to begin by April 15, with dose number 2 being administered from May 15.
Foreign tourists will be required to show a vaccine certificate, vaccine passport, or International Air Transport Association travel pass. They still need to take a Covid-19 test 72 hours before travel.
Meanwhile, the government has approved a re-opening roadmap for 6 Thai provinces, beginning next month. Between April and June, vaccinated foreigners arriving in Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Surat Thani (Koh Samui), Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai, will carry out a reduced quarantine of 7 days. From July, Phuket waives quarantine for vaccinated arrivals, but tourists will need to stick to “sealed routes” on the island for 7 days, before being allowed to visit other parts of the country. They will also need to download and use the government’s contact tracing app.
The Bangkok Post reports that Bhummikitti Ruktaengam from the Phuket Tourist Association says once tourism picks up from October, Phuket’s re-opening should generate an additional 54 billion baht.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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