Starting on July 1, Phuket will begin to welcome international visitors who have been vaccinated.
The re-opening of the Andaman island is part of the Thai government’s experiment, which it’s calling the “Phuket sandbox”, to give a shot in the arm to its tourism sector. Tourism and related businesses account for roughly one-fifth of the country’s GDP. If all goes well, Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy may fully open by the end of the year.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has predicted about 129,000 foreign arrivals and that 500,000 Thais will also visit Phuket in the three months from July to September.
If the experiment goes well, this sandbox approach will be expanded to other islands, including Phi Phi, Ngai, Railay and Yao in southern Thailand from August.
The mainland tourist destinations of Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Buriram will start accepting vaccinated tourists from September, and from mid-October, all parts of Thailand, including Bangkok, will be reopened to vaccinated tourists without quarantine.
Here’s what you need to know before booking your ticket to Phuket
Basically, if you have been vaccinated, you’ll be able to travel to Phuket without serving any quarantine. If you test negative upon arrival, you’ll be able to go about your business freely around the island. To travel to other parts of Thailand, you’ll need to spend at least two weeks in Phuket before leaving.
In addition to the test, all incoming travellers will also be required to download an app, which lets the Thai government trace your location. If you come into any contact with any virus cases, you’ll receive a notification via the app. To prove your vaccination status, you’ll need to present a certificate upon arrival. You must also be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before your departure date.
That’s not all. A negative PCR test result issued no more than 72 hours before departure must also be presented. Visitors must also have insurance for COVID-19 expenses, with a minimum coverage of $100,000, and arrive on a direct flight from a low- to medium-risk country, having spent at least 21 days in that country.
The list of low- to medium-risk countries are decided by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health using daily confirmed cases. The country list is updated twice a month and the most recent list, released on June 16, showed that low-risk areas include Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Qatar, Israel and Norway.
China, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and the US are in the medium-risk category.
Speaking about the re-opening, Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, the head of the Phuket branch of the Thai tourism authority, said he was “very excited”, adding: “Business here has been devastated. With this reopening, at least the people are being given the chance to welcome tourists again.”