An encouraging start towards a broaden reopening of Thailand !
Phuket Sandbox has been launched since 1st July 2021 and has driven hopes in the hospitality and tourism sector as the pilot project to reopen Thailand to tourists over the coming months.
What is the Phuket Sandbox?
It is a program that enables fully vaccinated international travelers to enter Phuket without quarantine requirements. This pilot project actually allows tourists from low and medium risk countries to enter the island of Phuket under certain conditions. One of the main condition is that they shall stay in hotels which have been granted the SHA Plus Certification, that is to say hotels which have proved to cope with the current health & safety regulations and where at least 70% of the staff have been fully vaccinated.
For a complete and updated list of the requirements before travelling to Phuket and during the Sandbox program, please refer to the Phuket Sandbox FAQs & requirements by TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand - read here) which is updated on a regular basis.
What is DMHTTA?
D – Distancing
M – Mask wearing
H – Handwashing
T – Temperature check
T – Testing for COVID-19
A – alert application.
These are the main precautions against Covid-19 that tourists as well as locals are strongly encouraged to follow. The Thai authorities have launched a massive communication campaign to promote these measures in the hope to stop the spread of Covid-19. Phuket's people are very respectful of these measures and tourists are asked to comply, even if the mask wearing measures might vary from what they are used to in their home country. Indeed, the people of Phuket have long been waiting for the island's re-opening and everyone is doing their best to give a good chance of success to the Sandbox program.
Can tourists move freely around Thailand?
After completing the 14 nights mandatory stay in a SHA Plus Hotel in Phuket, international travelers are aloud to move freely around Thailand. Despite the latest interprovincial travel restrictions, which have made domestic travel quite challenging over the last few weeks, the ambition remains unchanged.
There is a good chance that the Phuket Sandbox Extension Model will be approved over the next few days by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), and this model will give more freedom for Phuket "Sandboxers" to visit some of the main touristic destinations in the Southern part of Thailand outside the province of Phuket. Under the Phuket Sandbox Extension Model, travelers could be able to stay 7 nights in a SHA Plus certified hotel on the island of Phuket and then continue for another 7 nights in a SHA Plus hotel in one of the following destinations: Railay Beach in Krabi, Koh Ngai, Phi Phi Island, Khao Lak, Koh Yao, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Can we call it a good start?
According to information from Phuket Immigration, between 1st and 30th July, 13,281 international travelers arrived on the island to take part in the Phuket Sandbox scheme. Travelers from the USA reached the highest step of the podium (1,898) followed by Thai nationals (1,853) and travelers from the UK (1,654). Out of the 67 different nationalities, below is the repartition of the top 10 nationalities for Phuket Sandbox travelers:
“Mr Vikrom Jakthi, Phuket's Deputy Governor recently announced that there have been a total of 20,727 tourist arrivals from the launch of the Phuket Sandbox Model on July 1st until August 14th, 2021. According to Mr Vikrom, over 350,000 room nights have been reserved in July and August 2021.”
Let's wait and see if September remains on the same trend. For now, even if the figures seem very low comparing to pre-covid international arrivals numbers, we can say that the Sandbox Model has been so far an encouraging start towards a broaden reopening of Thailand.
SOURCE: BANGKOK POST