On Friday, the Thai government gave the green light to reopen Phuket to vaccinated foreign tourists starting on July 1. The proposal was prepared by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Sport and Tourism Ministry which was approved during a meeting of the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (Cesa) chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Starting July 1, Phuket will be the first province to welcome back foreign visitors, waiving the quarantine requirement for those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 under the “Phuket Tourism Sandbox” programme.  

The Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the program is a model for the reopening of the kingdom’s tourism industry as a whole. However, the visitors must spend 14 days on the resort island – an increase from the previously planned seven days – before being allowed to enter other destinations in the country.

He added that plans to reopen Krabi and Koh Samui off Surat Thani to foreigners next month have not yet been approved. Cesa intends to first evaluate the outcome of Phuket’s reopening over the next two months before moving forward with this decision.

Mr Phiphat said the reopening of Bangkok, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri and Buri Ram has been approved for tourism from Oct 1, said. He previously commented that the combined tourism income of these 10 provinces in 2019 amounted to 1.5 trillion baht, which is the reason why they were selected to join the reopening pilot programme, which is currently scheduled to run from Oct 1 until Dec 31.

“Under the sandbox programme, Phuket will also reopen to Thais who have already received two doses of vaccines,” he said. “The TAT will sign an agreement with the Board of Trade of Thailand to fly vaccinated members of the board to Phuket to promote the reopening on July 1.”

Mr Phiphat is confident that over 70% of Phuket residents, and 100% of local tourism operators will be fully vaccinated in time for the reopening on July 1. As of Wednesday, almost 60% of Phuket’s target population of 466,587 have received the first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 98,795 have been fully vaccinated, according to TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn. A total of 376,427 people have registered for the vaccination drive.

Danucha Pichayanan, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council, elaborated the details of the Phuket reopening plan. The Public Health Ministry announced that Phuket will reopen to tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 for over 14 days but no more than one year prior to their visit. Only those travellers from low-to-moderate risk countries will be allowed to visit the island.

Furthermore, children under six years who arrive with their fully vaccinated parents will be allowed into the island while those between six and 18 years old will have to take a Covid-19 test upon arrival at Phuket airport. Foreign tourists must carry proof of vaccination certificates from their countries. The vaccines received must be registered under Thai law or approved by the World Health Organization.

Visitors must stay at hotels that have Safety & Health Administration Plus hygiene standards certification and will still be required to use contact tracing apps while in Thailand. They must abide by the Covid-19 DMHTTA rules (distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing, temperature testing, Covid testing and mobile app use) and will be required to report to health authorities regularly.

Also Read: Thailand Proposes One-Night, One-Dollar Campaign To Entice Tourists Back To Phuket


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