On day 7 of the Phuket Sandbox, international arrivals have surpassed 2,000 people, the first Covid-19 infection from abroad has been found, and a few hiccups have been addressed. Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew says the reopening is definitely benefiting the economy, but plenty of improvements are to be made.
Government officials have been pleased to announce that with their strict arrival requirements and testing for the Sandbox, no Covid-19 infections have been found in international arrivals. But new reporting within the last hour suggests that one man from the United Arab Emirates has just tested positive for Covid-19. The vaccinated man and the tour group he was travelling with have been immediately quarantined and is the first person in the Sandbox scheme to be infected.
Within the province, 17 new infections were found, much to provincial authorities’ dismay. The goal has been zero Covid-19 in the Sandbox, and caveats had been made about revising or cancelling the reopening programme if Phuket records 90 cases in a week, so even a minor outbreak could have devastating effects on the cautious tourism recovery attempt.
From the start of the month and the reopening of the Sandbox until July 5, 1,896 people flew into Phuket. Yesterday saw 236 international travellers arriving at Phuket International Airport, while today brings a Qatar Airways flight from Doha and an El Al flight from Tel Aviv this afternoon. Tomorrow’s schedule includes a morning flight from Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways and a late afternoon flight from Singapore on Singapore Airlines.
13,116 hotel room nights have been booked for the first half of July, with an average stay length of 12 nights. This suggests about 1,100 bookings in total. With the Sandbox requiring 14 days in Phuket before further travel, the 12 nights suggest either some people making short trips to Phuket and then leaving Thailand or tourists changing hotels during their 2 weeks. The Sandbox rules allow people to change accommodations after the first 7 nights and change once more during the following week.
With the new Covid-19 infection, the Sandbox hangs in a precarious position. Its success hinges on authorities containing any outbreaks and keeping it a safe destination to welcome tourists and slowly reopen tourist attractions like bars and nightlife. All arrivals are fully vaccinated and tested for Covid-19 before travelling and again on arrival. But even with stringent precautions, the virus has crept in.
For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, CLICK HERE.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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