As coronavirus cases skyrocket across Thailand, Phuket opens doors to vaccinated tourists



The Thai tourist island of Phuket has opened up to foreign tourists – but only to those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and come from countries deemed to be at low to medium risk.

Incoming travelers will not be required to undertake 14 days of hotel quarantine, but must remain on the island for fifteen days before being allowed to travel to other parts of Thailand if they wish. .

The reopening comes as Thailand experiences its third and deadliest wave of coronavirus to date, but Phuket has attempted to erect itself as a fortress to protect its people and visitors.

More than 75% of the island’s population has been vaccinated, compared to just 3.6% of the rest of the country.

There will be strict rules for entering Phuket from other parts of Thailand, where new infections topped 4,000 a day this week.

Thailand is basing its hopes on the pilot program, known as the Phuket Sandbox, to start reviving its inbound tourism industry, which was wiped out during the pandemic.

The island would typically welcome around 10 million international visitors a year, but when Thailand imposed strict border restrictions over a year ago, that number fell to zero.

How will the sandbox work?
Getting fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving on the island is the first of many steps foreigners will need to take.

They will also need to apply for an entry certificate, test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure, wear masks in public, have travel insurance worth $ 132,000, be tested three times in Phuket. and download a mobile phone application. for contact tracing purposes.

Visitors must arrive on direct flights and stay in approved hotels, but are allowed free movement around the island after their first negative test.

After the 14 days in Phuket, they can then travel to other parts of Thailand.

They can also choose to stay on the island for less than two weeks before returning home.

On the eve of the big experience, tourism operators on Thailand’s largest island are eagerly awaiting the return of business, but managing their expectations.

Final Thai government approval for the “Phuket Sandbox” program only arrived this week, giving potential visitors short notice to confirm tentative airline bookings.

In pre-pandemic times, Thailand was one of the most popular international destinations for Australians, but with the border still closed for holiday travel, it will remain off-limits for now.

The Phuket Tourist Association is hopeful that Australians will be included in the not-too-distant future with President Bhummikitti Ruktaengam saying “we respect the decisions of the Australian government to protect their citizens.

“However, if Phuket proves its worth – that we can receive and welcome international travelers without any illness – we should start to consider negotiating area by area.”

More than 400,000 people live on the island.

About the Author

A seasoned professional in the airline and travel industry, Joe has over 25 years of international airline sales experience, including 18 in management positions in Australia, North Africa and Europe, the Middle -East and Thailand.

Committed to sharing news and personal experiences, he explains that, post-COVID, “once I start traveling again with people like me who are nomadic by nature and love to travel, (I will) provide you with so much advice and tips to make your travel experience memorable. “

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