Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Thai officials welcome the first international visitors at Phuket International Airport, when Phuket reopens on July 1, 2021 – Photo: BANGKOK POST
Up to now, it has been 2 and a half months since Phuket island, southern Thailand opened to international tourists again on July 1, 2021. Travelers must receive a full dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
On September 15, Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for Thailand’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said that Phuket has so far welcomed 32,005 tourists and only 91 of them (accounting for 0.28 %) has a positive COVID-19 test result.
Tourists from the US are the largest group of international visitors, totaling 5,688 visitors from July 1.
Followed by 3,699 guests from Israel, 3,358 guests from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 3,338 guests from the United Kingdom, 2,897 guests from Germany, 2,671 guests from France, 1,101 guests from Switzerland, 1,004 guests from Qatar , 693 guests from the Netherlands and 521 guests from Belgium…
On September 15, 284 more tourists arrived on Phuket Island and all tested negative for COVID-19.
The reopening of Phuket has resulted in a total of 524,221 hotel nights, including 190,860 hotel nights in July, 176,121 nights in August, and 157,240 nights in bookings from early September to 14th. -9.
Currently visitors are required to stay in Phuket for only 7 days, instead of 14 days as before. After this period, they can visit nearby resorts in the province Surat Thani, Phangnga or Krabi province – three provinces in southern Thailand – also benefit from the reopening.
“This gives ‘breathing space’ to those who depend on tourism,” said Mr. Taweesilp.
Currently, Phuket still records more than 200 new infections per day. Among these, many are workers from other provinces.
However, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said: “The high vaccination rate in Phuket is keeping hospitalizations and deaths low. With Phuket becoming the ‘gateway in’, In Thailand, we are preparing a booster shot of the vaccine for those who are in close contact with international travelers.”
Living with translation
After Phuket, Thailand will open more areas to welcome international visitors from the beginning of October Straits Times, analysts assessed that Thailand’s reopening is “risky but necessary”.
A sign asking to wear a mask on Patong beach in Phuket on August 14, 2021 – Photo: AFP
Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the capital Bangkok and 4 provinces Chon Buri, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chiang Mai will start to reopen to tourists as planned from October 1.
Grandfather Phiphat admits that although the still high number of COVID-19 cases is a major obstacle, but Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports has fully prepared for the reopening.
Isra Sunthornvut, regional director for Thailand at consulting firm Vriens & Partners, said the reopening “is theoretically correct”, especially because Thailand – like many other countries – is working towards living with COVID-19.
“Whether (October reopening) is realistic or not, this represents a shift from the Thai Government’s ‘no COVID’ goal to living with the epidemic. They are also weighing between health and economic aspects,” said Mr. Isra.
Before the pandemic, tourism accounted for about a fifth of Thailand’s GDP. From July 1 to August 31, the “Phuket sandbox” model has brought Thailand about 1.63 billion baht (nearly 50 million USD) in revenue.