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Phuket vice governor says “Sandbox” tourists aren’t scared off by Covid situation

Tanutam Thawan

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Thailand’s latest and most severe wave of Covid-19 isn’t scaring away potential “Phuket Sandbox” tourists… at least that’s what the island province’s vice governor says. The official recently shot back claims that around a third of tourists who entered under the new reopening scheme decided to return home because of the continuous rise of Covid-19 infections and deaths.

Under the reopening model, travellers from overseas who are vaccinated against Covid-19 can enter the island province without undergoing quarantine. Travellers need to stay on the island for 14 days and undergo Covid-19 testing before travelling to other provinces in Thailand. Thai officials have been continuously denying rumours that Phuket Sandbox tourists are fleeing the island and returning home, unhappy with their trip since Phuket reopened on July 1.

Yesterday, Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong said he saw a headline in the news that said 3,000 “Sandbox” tourists had decided to leave the country because of the escalating infection rate as well as the restrictions on entering the province by land.

Infections rates continue to hit record highs, which health officials suspect may continue to increase due to the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant. Tight restrictions including curfews, business closures and limits on travel are imposed in 13 provinces classified as “dark red” zones under maximum control to combat the virus. Phuket authorities have tightened entry requirements for domestic tourists, requiring proof of vaccination or a Covid-19 test to enter.

“Between the opening of the Sandbox scheme on July 1st through to yesterday, a total of 10,849 people have arrived… Approximately 3,000 have returned to their home countries as they had completed their holidays before or at the 14-day mark… I want to clarify that these tourists left Phuket as per their original plans and not because of the higher number of infected cases.”

In a straw poll from The Thaiger over the past 3 days, we’ve also found that hotels are reporting figures between 44-65% cancellation and postponement rates for bookings post-August 1. The people we spoke to, from MDs to reservation staff, have attributed the cancellations and postponements to the current surge of cases in Thailand, lack of options available on the island at this time, the complexity of the rules, a shortage of options at the end of their 14 days and the high cost of transport to get around Phuket.

Out of the 10,849 people who arrived in Phuket from July 1 to 24, there are 4,692 people still on the island, according to the vice governor.

For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, CLICK HERE.

SOURCE: Phuket News

 

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Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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