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UPDATE: Tourism Minister reportedly says July 1 ‘sandbox’ won’t happen

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Tourism Minister Pipat Ratchakinprakan (via World News Today)

UPDATE

By the conclusion of a meeting in Phuket this afternoon the only confirmation was that the July 1 date for a re-opening of Thailand, via the Phuket sandbox was “still on”, according to Bill Barnett from c9hotelworks.com who attended the meeting. More details when they emerge. Bottomline, nothing is confirmed until the Thai Cabinet discusses the issue, probably Tuesday, and then gets rubber-stamped in the Royal Gazette.

UPDATE

The governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Yuthasak Supasorn has pulled out of a meeting this afternoon which was to be the announcement of all the details for the Sandbox plan – the reopening ‘plan’ for Thai tourism. The meeting also had the Phuket Governor and the president of the local chapter of the TAT in attendance.

ORIGINAL STORY

With all the hullabaloo around the July 1 Phuket Sandbox reopening that will definitely maybe possibly probably not surely happen, newsreaders should be prepared for a month of flip-flopping, confusing, and contradicting stories. Today Siam Rath reported that Thailand’s Tourism Minister has commented that the reopening will not happen on July 1.

At a meeting of tourism officials in Bangkok including the deputy governor of Surat Thani and representatives from Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao, Thailand Tourism Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan was quoted by Siam Rath as saying that Phuket is unlikely to be ready to reopen by the first of next month. He reportedly stated that reopening will happen on August 1 instead.

The Thaiger hasn’t been able to independently verify the comment.

The representatives from the eastern islands proposed a Samui Sealed Route plan that would create a corridor between Phuket and the islands. They suggested arriving tourists could spend July 1 to 7 in Phuket and then board a Bangkok Airways flight straight to Koh Samui, where they could spend their second week.

Travellers would be tested 3 times as originally proposed, but now in Phuket and Samui, and then be free to travel in the rest of Thailand after the 2 weeks. The plan would spread tourism revenue around the country a bit, but also soften the blow of the 2 week waiting period by allowing tourists to wait in 2 locations.

But when they proposed the plan, the Tourism Minister reportedly responded by saying the idea was good, but Phuket was not ready yet for reopening. He was quoted as saying that the plan could be launched starting August 1 instead.

This startling revelation, while not at all an official announcement, is very contrary to a concerted push by government officials to charge full steam ahead on the Phuket Sandbox reopening scheme, despite a growing list of factors fighting against the plan. The estimate of returning travellers entering Thailand via Phuket was recently reduced again, this time halved to about 14,000 people as vaccine delays, increased restrictions, and bar closures dissuade people from visiting.

NOTE: The Thaiger believes that the Sandbox plan WILL go ahead, no matter what. There is now too much political capital and face invested in the scheme for it to fail. We will see.

SOURCE: ThaiVisa and Siam Rath

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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