Phuket province is now gearing up towards a 1st July opening to quarantine-free vaccinated international tourists as part of the Phuket Sandbox initiative. Hotels have launched special offers to attract visitors, as the provincial authorities race to vaccinate 70% the island’s population in time.
The Andaman Sea island province of Phuket is preparing to reopen to international travelers from July, as part of the Phuket Sandbox initiative, where vaccinated tourists will be allowed to travel within the province quarantine-free, and have the option of traveling elsewhere in Thailand after spending 14 nights in Phuket.
Hotels on the island are enthusiastic about the sandbox initiative. Mr Saharat Jiwawisitnon, an executive at Four Points by Sheraton Phuket Patong Beach Resort said his hotel is expected to have twice as many bookings, as the current 5% occupancy.
Mr Saharat said his hotel has already been contacted by prospective guests in Israel, Germany, and the U.S., as well as Scandinavian countries.
He said the hotel has received the Amazing Thailand Safety Health Administration Plus (SHA+) certification, with 95% of the hotel staff being vaccinated by the middle of this month. The hotel has also launched special offers to attract guests.
Mr Kongsak Khoopongsakorn the President of the Thai Hotels Association’s Southern Chapter, said some 300-400 operating hotels in Phuket are enthusiastic about the sandbox campaign. They are now making preparations in terms of the facilities, staff, and cleanliness, as well as introducing unique selling points to attract visitors.
The association has been coordinating with tour operators and tourism authorities to get tourism attractions ready for visitors.
One crucial element needed for the campaign to succeed is mass vaccination. A goal of 466,587 recently vaccinated residents has to be reached, before Phuket reopens to international visitors; the figure health authorities say is the herd immunity threshold. Currently 335,444 people in Phuket have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, or 71.89% of the target, while only 99,017 people have received the two doses required for immunity.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit, yesterday attended a meeting on the Andaman Sandbox initiative, essentially extending the Sandbox tourism campaign in Phuket, Phang Nga, and Krabi into a larger designated area for quarantine-free travel.
The meeting agreed the initiative can only proceed once 70% the population of these locations is vaccinated, however some attractions will start welcoming vaccinated tourists who arrive in Phuket, including Ko Phi Phi and Ko Yao islands, pending approval from the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)
The meeting has also proposed that the CCSA revert to the original interprovincial travel restriction, where tourists can leave the island after 7 days, instead of the currently extended period of 14 days. (NNT)