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Phuket's reopening on July 1, tourism officials are anxious to separate the southern island from parts of the country where Covid-19 infection rates are currently higher.
The Thailand Tourism Authority is emphasizing the safety element of Phuket and the other areas that will reopen in a "sandbox" model. In a fortuitous development, no new infections were recorded on Phuket yesterday, and TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn says tourists need to be convinced of the island's safety.
“As the timeline for the countries reopening via the so-called Phuket sandbox remains the same – July 1 – we have a guarantee that the destination, which is currently building herd immunity, is safe for tourists.”
The Thai Hotels Association and representatives from 50 to 60 hotels met with the TAT yesterday, including Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Centara Hotels and Resorts, Minor Hotels, Accor, Dusit Thani, Asset World Corp, and Onyx Hospitality Group.
The authority wants to reassure hoteliers that the July 1 reopening is still on schedule, and asks for their cooperation in communicating with foreign tourists. Yuthasak is clearly focused on highlighting the island's safety to set it apart from the rest of the country.
“They will not have the confidence to visit Thailand if we cannot send a clear message that the Phuket sandbox is separate from the rest of the country.”
Hotel operators are optimistic that international tourists are impatient to travel again, but the majority believe this more likely to be seen in the final quarter of the year. They say the performance of the Phuket sandbox model will determine how the areas that will participate at a later stage fare.
Meanwhile, Yuthasak says the TAT will provide ongoing information on Phuket's reopening plan, including daily infection rates, vaccine rollout progress, and healthcare system capacity.