As Thailand continues to battle its third and worst Covid-19 wave since the start of the pandemic, officials say the popular resort island of Phuket is still on track to reopen to international tourists next month.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has confirmed that vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries will be permitted to fly direct to the Thai island without having to quarantine from July 1 as part of its pilot “Phuket Sandbox” program.
TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn told CNN that he expects around 129,000 visitors to arrive in Phuket between July and September this year.
Daily reported Covid-19 cases
An island desperate for tourists
For now, all incoming travelers must quarantine for 14 days in a government-approved quarantine facility or an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facility.The governor says if the pilot project goes well, it will be expanded to nine additional tourist destinations in the coming months: Krabi; Phang-nga; Koh Samui; Pattaya; Bangkok; Buriram; Cha-am; and Hua Hin.”There will be a ‘standard of practice’ for each of these places, but there will be some variations depending on their geography,” said Yuthasak. “Above all we have to prioritize the safety and health of the public to prevent further outbreaks.”
Thailand struggles to contain third Covid-19 wave
Prior to the current Covid-19 wave, Thailand had fared incredibly well compared to other countries. It shut its borders to international travelers in late March 2020 as Covid-19 began to spread, imposing strict quarantine measures on those who did arrive.For months, Thailand reported few locally transmitted Covid-19 cases.
However, the country is now struggling to contain a third wave of infections that spread from Bangkok in early April.On June 1, Thailand reported 2,230 new cases of Covid-19 and 38 new deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, the country has recorded 162,022 cases and 1,069 deaths.
Phuket officials have taken steps to prevent the current outbreak from spreading to the island as it prepares to reopen to international visitors.Domestic travelers now entering Phuket must be fully vaccinated, have received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine or recovered from Covid-19 within 90 days. Otherwise, they need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test conducted within seven days prior to their arrival.