The start of the Phuket Sandbox, quarantine free travel for vaccinated travellers, is under threat due to the ongoing Covid outbreak throughout Thailand.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has said that the number of Covid-19 cases in Phuket must reach zero before it can relax restrictions.
The Phuket Sandbox is currently scheduled to start on 1st July and is dependent on at least 70% of residents being fully vaccinated by the end of June. However even if that is achieved there will be a review of its suitability unless there are zero current cases of the virus.
The Sandbox is due to include a further 10 areas by October with Bangkok, Phangnga, Krabi, Koh Samui, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Buri Ram all joining the scheme. conditions are likely to vary between areas however, Chiang Mai for example is proposing to start in only two areas.
Any delay to the Phuket Sandbox could also affect other areas who will be watching the situation in Phuket closely.
Thailand Tourism Plans
Thailand is still hoping to attract between 3 and 4 million foreign tourists in 2022 through the Sandbox scheme.
The current Covid outbreal, the worst in Thailand throughout the pandemic, needs to be brought under control quickly and the vaccination programme proceed successfully to achieve that goal.
“We have to speed up inoculations, particularly in Bangkok, to achieve herd immunity by the fourth quarter. The number of daily infections should be below 200 by the end of this month to restore international tourism confidence.”Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Thai Tourism and Sports Minister
Negotiations with other countries on travel bubbles has been halted due to the outbreak. The government plans to resume talks with Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia once the outbreak is under control.
New Tourism Fund Planned
The Thai government is planning to launch a new tourism fund from 2022 which could help the battered tourism industry.
The plan would mean that foreign tourists would need to pay 300 baht (£6.90 / US$9.63), probably on entry to the country.
The fund has already been approved by the National Tourism Policy Committee.
Thailand is targeting 20.8 million visitors in 2022 which would result in 6.2 billion baht (£142.9 million / US$198.9 million) for the fund.
Source: Bangkok Post
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