Over 27,000 international travellers have visited Thailand under the Phuket Sandbox, Samui Plus, and 7+7 Extension programmes with which Thailand has gradually reopened to tourism, from 1 July, 15 July, and 16 August, respectively.
As the pilot destination of the reopening, the Phuket Sandbox has welcomed 26,400 visitors in the first two months, from its launch on 1 July through to 31 August, generating 1,634 million Baht in revenue.
The revenue comprised 565 million Baht on accommodation, 376 million Baht on shopping and tours, 350 million Baht on food and beverage, 229 million Baht on medical and health services, and 114 million Baht on others. The average cost of the visitors’ vacation to Phuket in July-August was 61,894 Baht, up from 58,982 Baht recorded in July.
The Phuket Sandbox’s five largest source markets remained the USA with 3,482 arrivals, followed by the UK with 3,351 arrivals, Israel with 2,909 arrivals, Germany with 2,092 arrivals, and France with 2,083 arrivals.
Fully vaccinated and with no need to quarantine, the 26,400 arrivals have come to Phuket on direct international flights operated by major airlines from points around the world. This included Thai Airways International from Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Paris, London, and Zurich; Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi; Qatar Airways from Doha; EL AL Israel Airlines from Tel Aviv; Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong; Emirates from Dubai, and Singapore Airlines from Singapore.
These arrivals have generated 366,971 room nights at SHA Plus certified hotels on Phuket – 190,843 nights in July and 176,128 nights in August, respectively. With 95,997 room nights currently on the books for September, the three-month total for July to September is presently at 462,968 room nights. Looking further ahead, the present total of room nights for the period of October 2021 to February 2022 is 24,947 room nights.
Phuket Sandbox’s tourists are required to stay at SHA Plus certified hotels on Phuket for their added safety. SHA Plus certification indicates a hotel meets the safety measures to control COVID-19, and also that at least 70% of its workforce has been fully vaccinated.
Alongside the necessary health and safety measures in place for the visiting international travellers, Phuket’s vaccination programme as of 31 August has seen 92% of the local population had received their first vaccine dose, while 75% had completed the two-dose series.
Signalling the second of Thailand’s destinations to reopen to tourism, the Samui Plus programme was launched on 15 July, allowing visitors to visit Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao. They can do this by either directly entering Samui or, from 16 August, by travelling there after first staying 7 nights under the Phuket Sandbox, the latter option of which 347 visitors have done so.
In the first month and a half, from 15 July to 31 August, the programme has welcomed 918 visitors, with 6,329 room nights, generating 37.6 million Baht in revenue. Most of these arrivals were from European countries and the United States.
Helping facilitate the programme are Bangkok Airways’ 92 sealed route flights between Samui and Bangkok for transit/transfer passengers to Samui Plus connecting through the Thai capital. In addition, the airline also operates flights between Phuket and Samui for visitors from the Phuket Sandbox.
In the last quarter of this year up until 9 December, Samui Plus has currently recorded 9,195 room nights on the books from 860 visitors. These include 7,397 room nights booked 591 visitors under Samui Plus and 1,788 room nights by 269 tourists under the Phuket Sandbox and 7+7 Extension.
Phuket Sandbox 7+7 Extension
Launched on 16 August, 2021, the Phuket Sandbox 7+7 Extension programme is the latest element of ‘Thailand Reopening’ in which tourists are given more opportunities to visit multiple destinations on their visit to the country.
The programme enables international travellers to reduce the mandatory stay in Phuket from 14 to 7 nights, after which another 7 nights can be spent in Krabi (in the designated destinations of Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai, or Railay Beach), in Phang-Nga (in Khao Lak or Ko Yao), or in Surat Thani (on Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, or Ko Tao).
From Phuket, Surat Thani’s Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao can be reached via Bangkok Airways’ direct domestic flights from Phuket; Krabi’s Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai and Railay Beach can be reached by SHA Plus-certified boat and ferry services from approved piers; Phang-Nga’s Khao Lak can be reached by SHA Plus-certified car transfer services from Phuket, while Ko Yao Noi or Ko Yao Yai can be reached via SHA Plus-certified boat and ferry services from approved piers.
Upcoming destinations to reopen to fully vaccinated international travellers
More destinations comprising Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, and Pattaya, are planned to reopen from 1 October, 2021.
This is as Thailand has continued to make significant progress in the vaccination of the country’s population, since the mass rollout began on 7 June.
From 28 February to 4 September, 2021, a total of 9,879,371 people nationwide have been fully vaccinated, or have completed the two-dose series for a COVID-19 vaccine, another 25,104,942 people have received their first vaccine dose, while another 603,363 people have received their third vaccine dose, according to the Ministry of Public Health.