As part of its pilot scheme, Thailand had planned to reopen Phuket to tourists in July. However, due to the increase in Covid-19 cases and not enough vaccines available, the government is now considering to push back the reopening date.
“We are concerned about the reopening timeline. We still need to discuss the vaccine administration plan. If the herd immunity goal cannot be achieved, we may have to consider opening only certain areas in Phuket,” said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
Thailand’s tourism ministry has to make the difficult decision of whether to push through Phuket’s “sandbox” pilot program or delay it yet again. The country has been hit with a double whammy. In recent days, Thailand has been recording over 1500 Covid-19 daily cases, despite its success in containing local transmission and battling two waves in 2020.
Although the cases may seem low by international standards, it has been a huge cause for concern in the country. The recent surge in the number of cases has caused concern to officials to reassess its plans. Thailand originally planned to inoculate 70% of Phuket’s population by June, however due to the rise in cases the rate of vaccination will slow down. Currently, Thailand has 42,352 cases and 101 deaths.
While narrowing down the zones open to visitors could help, the government is unsure if travel bubble countries will agree to the proposal. If cases continue to rise, countries could opt not to form agreements with Thailand which will hurt its recovery.
More information about the dates and details of the Phuket sandbox will come to light after the government meeting next week. At this time, the July 1st reopening timeline seems to be in serious danger of being missed.
2021 was meant to mark a fresh start for travelers and tourism-reliant economies worldwide. With the introduction of vaccines, airlines were excited to release their busy summer schedules to cater to demand. However, the reality has been far from this hopeful expectation.
Vaccine supplies remain low in some countries. Apart from this, countries globally are battling new variants of the virus which is proving to be deadlier than the last. While there has been a glimpse of hope for vaccinated travelers, we are still far from a global reopening that was once anticipated for.
Related Article: Thailand Will Welcome Vaccinated Foreigners into Phuket from July 1