If all goes to plan Phuket will be the first area in Thailand to reopen to foreign tourists, without the need for a mandatory quarantine, on 1st July.
The Phuket reopening is part of a series of “Sandbox” measures that the country is taking to help safely reopen borders and reignite the tourism economy which before the pandemic generated around 2 trillion baht per year (£45.3 billion / US$63.96 billion).
Plans are well under way to reopen a further 9 provinces from 1st October as the country works towards a full reopening of the borders in 2022. The additional provinces are:
- Buri Ram
- Chiang Mai
- Chon Buri (including Pattaya)
- Krabi (including Ao Nang, Railay, Phi Phi Islands and Koh Lanta)
- Phangnga (including Khao Lak, Similian Islands and Surin Islands)
- Phetchaburi (includes Hua Hin and Cha Am).
- Prachuap Khiri Khan
- Surat Thani (includes Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao and Nakhon Si Thammarat)
Each of the provinces are preparing their own opening plans which could vary quite considerably from the Phuket Sandbox.
In Phuket, fully vaccinated travellers will be able to travel freely throughout the province and, after 14 days, be free to travel elsewhere in Thailand. They must however complete a number of pre-arrival checks and stay in approved hotels.
Initial details of the proposed Chiang Mai Sandbox suggested that just two districts would be included and travellers would not be allowed to move outside of these and other approved areas.
In Krabi travellers may be restricted to key tourist areas.
The Thai government is now looking at the progress of Sandbox plans to ensure that they are progressing and are within the guidelines that have been set down. Discussions are also expected to take place on economic stimulus and investment packages to assist the reopening.
Tourism chiefs in Phuket however are concerned that despite all of their best efforts, government agencies will not have resolved all of the hurdles in time for a 1st July reopening.
“The problem is we have been asked a lot lately by interested parties in other countries as to what the exact conditions of this tourism programme are. But we cannot really answer these questions even though there are just 28 days left.
If things are still left so unclear, the Phuket sandbox won’t likely happen as planned.”Bhummikitti Raktaengam, President Phuket Tourist Association (Bangkok Post)
For the Phuket Sandbox to begin at least 70% of the islands population needs to have been inoculated. By 1st June 54% of the population had been inoculated, which estimates say has now increased to more than 60%.
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