Tourism operators on the southern island of Phuket are calling for the certificate of entry process to be reformed in order to attract more sandbox visitors. And, according to Bhummikitti Ruktaengam from the Phuket Tourist Association, they would also like to see changes made to other entry criteria.
“Simplifying the certificate of entry process is the first and foremost key to bringing back more international arrivals along with further relaxation in other settings.”
According to a Bangkok Post report, Bhummikitti is not calling for the COE to be cancelled, as he describes it as a useful screening tool. However, he says those making the decisions need to understand how tourists plan their holidays and simplify entry procedures in order to attract more visitors. He points out that the current requirement for tourists to have at least US$100,000 in Covid-19 insurance coverage is unnecessary, given that most companies won’t reimburse patients with no symptoms and most infected sandbox tourists have been asymptomatic.
Bhummikitti would also like to see an end to the policy of moving tourists to alternative state quarantine hotels if they are unfortunate enough to have been a passenger on the same flight as an infected person. He says none of the tourists subjected to this practice in the 3 months since the launch of the sandbox have tested positive. He would also like to see officials adopt an automated system for checking vaccine certificates, pointing out that the current manual checks will not be sustainable once tourist numbers increase.
Tourism operators are hopeful the shorter quarantine period which comes into effect on Friday will help increase demand. Sandbox tourists participating in the 7+7 extension scheme are now only required to spend 4 days on Phuket before travelling to places like Phang Nga, Krabi, or Koh Samui.
Bhummikitti says that on September 21, bookings being made for after mid-October hit an all-time high of 12,000 nights, amid speculation that quarantine was about to be reduced. Since the launch of the sandbox, Phuket has welcomed a total of 37,576 international visitors, far short of the initial target of 100,000 in the first 3 months.
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SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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