Zero Covid Cases for Phuket to Reopen

7 May 2021

If the southern island of Phuket is to reopen in July, the Tourism and Sports Minister maintains that there must be no Covid-19 events. Should new infections be identified after 70 per cent of the island has been vaccinated, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says the Tourism and Public Health Ministries will collaborate to determine what action to take.

Many businesses in Phuket are clinging to the hope that the island's reopening in July will go ahead, with many seeing it as their last chance. The so-called "sandbox model" will reopen the island to vaccinated international visitors without the need for mandatory quarantine. Tourism officials expect to draw between 3 and 4 million foreign tourists, according to Phiphat.

According to the Bangkok Post, the model will be expanded to other parts of the country in the fourth quarter of this year, including Phang Nga, Krabi, Koh Samui, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok.

“In order to achieve herd immunity by the fourth quarter, we need to accelerate inoculations, especially in Bangkok. By the end of this month, the number of regular infections should be below 200, restoring international tourism confidence.”

Given that many people may need convincing to travel, particularly if it means mandatory quarantine once they return home, the government's decision to charge foreign arrivals a 300 baht "tourism fee" may raise some eyebrows. That's right, you read that correctly...

According to Phiphat, the project will begin in January, with the proceeds going toward creating a fund to aid the tourism industry in the event of potential disasters. He estimates that if Thailand receives 20.8 million international visitors in 2022, the fund will have 6.2 billion baht to future-proof the industry.

Officials in Thailand intend to reopen travel bubble discussions with neighbouring countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Laos, Malaysia, and Vietnam, once the Covid-19 outbreak is under control, according to the Bangkok Post.