Full Steam Ahead
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has reiterated that both the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus programmes are going ahead as usual, and the plans to reopen Krabi and Phang Nga to fully vaccinated international tourists are set to start within August.
Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, spokesperson of the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA), said Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha had been keeping a close watch on the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus programmes and voiced confidence in the plans to revive the economy through tourism by gradually reopening destinations that could ensure the health and safety of both the tourists and local people.
The new Covid-19 cases in Phuket were cited as mostly detected among locals, construction camp workers and domestic travellers with only a small number of cases found among international arrivals.
From 1st July until 1st August, 2021, Phuket recorded 14,910 international arrivals under the Sandbox programme. Of these, 34 tested positive for Covid-19 and were sent for medical treatment.
To contain local transmission, Phuket has stepped up screening measures on domestic travellers, effective from 3rd – 16th August, 2021. The measures are only meant to prevent the spread of the disease from other Thai provinces, while international arrivals under the Sandbox programme can still enter Phuket per the existing rules and regulations.
Meanwhile, a recent report of 54 new cases on Ko Samui from a restaurant cluster has been brought under control and none of the infections were related to foreign tourists under the Samui Plus programme or those who continued their journey from the Phuket Sandbox programme.
From 15th July to 1st August, Surat Thani recorded 137 international arrivals under the Samui Plus programme, with 1 person testing positive for Covid-19. In addition, there were 211 tourists from the Phuket Sandbox programme.
Surat Thani also stepped up Covid-19 control measures, effective from the last week of July until further notice to safeguard the ‘Samui Plus’ model.
Krabi and Phang Nga are scheduled to reopen selected areas in August under a 7+7 model. This will allow foreign tourists under the Sandbox programme to reduce the mandatory stay in Phuket from 14 to 7 days, after which another 7 nights can be spent in Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai and Railay Beach), and Phang Nga (Khao Lak and Ko Yao).
The 7+7 model aims to provide international tourists with more options to visit multiple destinations during their trip to Thailand. Krabi and Phang Nga are ideal for this given their proximity to and ease of access from Phuket.
Phang Nga and Khao Lak are only 1.5 hours by car, while Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai can be reached within 30-40 minutes by boat from Bang Rong Pier.
Other destinations such as Krabi, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai and Railay Beach can be reached within 45-55 minutes from Rassada Pier.
Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga are declared among the 11 Controlled Areas or orange zone provinces in Thailand’s expansion of the Covid-19 restrictions from 3rd – 31st August, 2021.
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