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Life in the Sandbox

Phuket is reopening 1st July 2021

Phuket opens it’s doors to direct International travel from 1st July 2020, pushing to return its covid-19 hit travel and hospitality industry to working order by introducing a ‘sandbox’ model to the island province.

This will allow international flights into the island without the need for vaccinated visitors to undergo any form of quarantine. Previously visitors entering the province by both air and land were required to quarantine for 14 days. The sandbox plan was approved by the Thai government in June 2021. To help with this reopening, mass vaccination of the Phuket population was rolled out in June with an aim to reach a 70% vaccination rate by the opening date of 1st July 2021. Hotels and other businesses also have to receive Safety & Health Administration Plus hygiene standards certification.

The sandbox plan comes amidst fresh covid cases, mainly coming out of the Thai capital of Bangkok, in which domestic travel is restricted and covid checks around the country require undocumented and untested visitors to be quarantined for 14 days when crossing into another province.

In the beginning it was anticipated that this plan would attract around 3m visitors for the second half of 2021 but this number has already been slashed in half. Another blow to this plan is that Phuket’s bars are still under strict measures that don’t allow them to operate from 1st July putting a dampener on the plan.

Anticipation remains high however as it is a step forward in bringing back dwindling Phuket tourism and saving countless hotels and businesses.

Hong Island, Krabi

Krabi province is watching Phuket very closely and it is already rumored that the Krabi governor is making plans for a Krabi sandbox scheme. Although not as hard hit or as locked down as Phuket, Krabi has also been feeling the effects of restrictions in travel and regulation around opening of bars and restaurants and any plan to break free and open up for business is a welcome one. Despite covid restrictions, Krabi welcomed 1,000,000 domestic visitors and approx. 200,000 international guests into Krabi airport in 2020.

(-figures and graphic from c9Hotelworks).

Krabi is already rolling out vaccinations so it should be ready if and when a sandbox or other scheme comes about.

Sources –

The Nation Thailand https://www.nationthailand.com

Bangkok Post https://www.bangkokpost.com

The Thaiger Phuket https://thethaiger.com

C9 Hotel Works https://www.c9hotelworks.com

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