Thailand set to reopen to vaccinated tourists

Phuket could soon reopen to vaccinated tourists.

Phuket could soon reopen to vaccinated tourists. Photo: Getty

Thailand plans to allow tourists vaccinated against COVID-19 to visit the resort island of Phuket without quarantining on arrival in a step towards reviving tourism.

Starting in April, the country is also shortening the quarantine period for arrivals from abroad from 14 days to 10 days.

Thailand’s tourism industry dried up when scheduled passenger flights into the country were barred in April last year to curb the spread of the coronavirus. There has been a limited resumption of flights since then.

The plan for Phuket is set to begin on July 1, and if judged successful, may include other popular destinations such as Samui Island, Krabi, Pattaya and Chiang Mai in October, said Yuthasak Supasor, head of Thailand’s Tourism Authority.

The Thai government approved the Phuket plan on Friday but it still needs final approval from Phuket and health authorities. Thailand last year repeatedly cancelled various reopening plans as the pandemic expanded abroad.

Part of the plan to institute what is being called a “tourism sandbox” involves inoculating at least 450,000, or 70 per cent, of Phuket’s residents before the July reopening. The inoculations are expected to begin in April.

If all goes smoothly, it is hoped that around 100,000 tourists can be welcomed in the third quarter of the year.

Before the pandemic, Phuket was the country’s second-most popular destination after Bangkok. In 2019, it welcomed around 10 million foreign tourists.

According to the Phuket Hotel Association, more than 50,000 employees in its hospitality sector lost their jobs last year.


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