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A much-talked-about plan is set for a rebrand and expansion to reopen Phuket to international tourists. The plan is proposed to be re-named "Special Tourist Visa," formerly known as the "Phuket Model," and will now cover all of Thailand. But the model will only allow for the involvement of tourists from "approved countries" in its latest incarnation.
Apparently the Phuket plan came up against some opposition and a lot of confusion, and so officials decided to expand it nationwide as the best solution to all of that.
Tossaporn Sirisamphan, of the National Economic and Social Development Board, says the plan will now be rolled out to the country as a whole (it's not clear whether the "entire country" wants it or will be involved in the decision).
"The Phuket Model has caused confusion and opposition ... so we've adjusted the plan to allow foreign tourists to travel across the country, as some provinces like Bangkok are able to handle foreign tourists."
Before that, the scheme was aimed solely at Phuket as a pilot model in a controlled environment, with tourists having to carry out an additional 7-day quarantine on top of the mandatory 14 if they wanted to travel outside the province. That requirement seems to have been scrapped, for now at least.
Tossaporn says the revised plan is backed by Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, adding that foreign tourists admitted under the scheme will be subject to the same health constraints as Thai nationals repatriated.
"They are going to undergo the same measures as Thais who are coming back from abroad. They can go anywhere they want, after spending 14 days in quarantine and being cleared of the virus.
The government has yet to decide from which countries these hotly anticipated tourists will come, with Tossaporn saying the Ministries of Tourism and Finance will work together to draw up a list of qualifying countries.
Meanwhile, Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn of the Tourism Authority says the Kingdom must accept the possibility of new cases of COVID once the borders are reopened, insisting that the impact can be minimized by proper risk management.