More than 14,000 foreign tourists visited the Phuket Sandbox in the first month of the programme designed to woo back tourists to Thailand.
Main picture credit Sri Panwa Beach in Phuket, Thailand credit Mark Lehmkuhler on flickr
The Sandbox started on 1st July and since then 1,802 have arrived from the USA, 1,558 from the UK, 1,455 from Israel, 847 from Germany and 839 from France. Other arrivals made a grand total of 14,055.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is hoping that the pace of tourists will steadily increase and see 100,000 arrivals in the first three months of the scheme.
Fully vaccinated and able to enter Phuket without the need to quarantine, as the Phuket Sandbox programme allows, these first tourists to return to Thailand as it begins to gradually reopen to tourism came on direct international flights operated by major airlines from points around the world. This included Thai Airways International (THAI) from Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Paris, London, and Zurich, Singapore Airlines from Singapore, Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi, Emirates from Dubai, Qatar Airways from Doha, and EL AL Israel Airlines from Tel Aviv.Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
The first month of the Phuket Sandbox has generated a much-needed 829 million Baht (approx £17.9 million / US$24.9 million) to the local economy and TAT are hoping that this will increase to 8.9 billion Baht (approx £192.3 million / US$267.7 million) by the end of September.
Crucially, one of the key benefits of the Phuket Sandbox programme has been the creation of 210 million Baht (approx £4.5 million / US$6.3 million) in salaries for the local employees in the accommodation, restaurant, and other sectors.
Samui Plus followed the Phuket Sandbox on 15th July but is designed to attract far fewer tourists initially.
Next to open in Thailand will be Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai and Railay Beach) and Phang Nga (Khao Lak and Ko Yao), where fully vaccinated foreign tourists will be able to visit selected areas in each destination under a 7+7 model.
This will reduce the mandatory stay in Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox programme from 14 to 7 days, following which 7 nights can then be spent in Krabi and Phang Nga.
The 7+7 model is designed to provide foreign tourists with more options to visit multiple destinations during their trip to Thailand. Krabi and Phang Nga are ideal for this given their proximity to and ease of access from Phuket. Multi-centre holidays are seen as a key factor in attracting more tourists to the country.
The vaccination programme is also key to the schedule of reopening to tourists in Thailand. The target has always been a vaccination rate of 70% of the general population of each area plus 100% of those working in the service sector. As of 30th July 89% of the Phuket population had received their first vaccine dose, while 69% had received both doses.
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