The first plane carrying foreign tourists into Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox has arrived on the holiday island.
Main picture – Health workers stand at the COVID-19 swab test area at the airport as Phuket reopens to overseas tourists, allowing foreigners fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to visit the resort island without quarantine, in Phuket, Thailand. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
The Phuket Sandbox allows fully vaccinated visitors, from low and medium risk countries, to fly direct to the island and stay without needing to undertake a quarantine. All visitors must hold the correct documentation on arrival and comply with Sandbox regulations.
Travellers must stay in approved hotels for at least the first 14 days of their visit but can move freely around the island. After 14 days, a number of negative Covid-19 tests, they are then able to visit other areas of Thailand, as long as they do not have local movement restrictions in place.
“It is with great pleasure we can now welcome the world back to Phuket. Fully vaccinated visitors can once again enjoy the famed beaches, warm hospitality, and many other attractions that have made Phuket one of the world’s favourite destinations.”Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
The Phuket Sandbox is expected to have a slow start, with final details only being published a couple of days ago and a delay in the initial issue of the required Certificates of Entry (COE), that all visitors must have on arrival.
Flights are expected to arrive today from Abu Dhabi, Israel, Singapore and Qatar carrying just 249 tourists.
“Most Israelis have been vaccinated and they will be the main group of tourists entering Thailand this time around.” said Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s COVID-19 taskforce.Taweesin Visanuyothin, Thai Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson via Reuters
Tomorrow (Friday) will see an Emriates flight from Dubai, Saturday will have three Thai Airways flights from Copenhagen, Paris, and Frankfurt before furthe Thai flights from London and Zurich on Sunday.
It is hoped that the slow start to tourist numbers will quickly increase with hopes of 100,000 visitors to Phuket by the end of September.
“On behalf of the people and the tourism industry of Phuket, I would like to say how great an honour it is for us to be the pilot destination in the much-anticipated revitalisation of Thai tourism. We are extremely excited to again be able to welcome travellers to the famed beaches, legendary accommodation, spectacular attractions, and warm hospitality that makes Phuket one of the world’s favourite tropical island getaways.”
Mr. Narong Woonchiew, Governor of Phuket Province
Thai Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, has flown to Phuket to oversee the opening.
The reopening of Phuket is part of a wider plan to reopen most tourist areas of Thailand by mid-October. Koh Samui is due to open as part of the Surat Thani “Sealed Route” from 15th July.
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