The first foreign tourists to enter Phuket under the Sandbox have been enjoying the opportunity to roam free, without quarantine, for the first time in more than a year.
Main picture Newly-arrived tourists from Israel, Sigal Baram, 54, and Vered Bar-on, 53, enjoy at a swimming pool 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 July 2, 2021. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
More than,1300 foreign tourists entered Phuket in the first 3 days of the Sandbox.
The lucky tourists who have been able to take advantage of the scheme have been swimming in hotel pools and enjoying Phuket’s postcard-perfect beaches after receiving negative COVID-19 test results.
“This is the perfect place to just relax and clean our minds, our heads, after a long time.”Sigal Baram, credit Reuters
Although face coverings are required in public places, the first tourists have been able to enjoy some excellent weather in what is the low season on the island.
The Phuket Sandbox allows fully vaccinated travellers to visit the island without the need for quarantine, although a number of Covid tests are required during their stay. Once they have passed all tests and stayed 14 days in Phuket they are then allowed to visit other areas of Thailand.
There are some fears that the reopening of the island will mainly benefit the larger business owners and smaller shops and street vendors may not see the benefit if the relatively small number of tourists remain in their hotels.
Around 8,000 people have so far applied for a Certificate of Entry (COE) under the scheme.
“There is no way street vendors will get the money from overseas tourists… it will go to hotels and restaurants instead.”Yupin Papor, credit Reuters
If all goes well on Phuket, and there is not a Covid outbreak in the next two weeks, Koh Samui will become the second area in Thailand to well tourists back.
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