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Foreign Tourists Voice Displeasure Over Phuket’s Reopening Guidelines



Foreign Tourists Voice Displeasure Over Phuket's Reopening Guidelines

The Centre for Economic Situation Administration last Friday approved the launch of the Phuket tourism sandbox from July 1 after the centre changed the requirement from a 7-day mandatory stay to 14 days to ensure foreign visitors are free of Covid-19.

Under the scheme, foreign tourists who can verify they have been fully inoculated against Covid-19 and test negative can fly directly into Phuket and move around freely in the province without having to quarantine. After staying in Phuket for 14 days and still testing negative, they can then travel to other provinces in Thailand.

“Staying in Phuket for 14 days is too long and requires more money,” said one of the group members. “In the end many tourists who can’t afford this will cancel their trips altogether and this will eventually hurt Phuket’s local businesses.”

Many others posted that due to the prolonged-stay requirement, they decided to switch their destinations from Phuket to nearby countries.

Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn said last week that the Phuket sandbox is a pilot scheme to find and test suitable measures to be used in other top tourist provinces.

“There will be an evaluation within the first month with focus on the number of infections from foreign tourists,” he said. “If the infection rate does not increase, we could adjust down the requirement to seven days to attract more tourists.”

Pipat also said the 14-day requirement is only mandatory for those who wish to travel to other provinces.

“Those who plan to travel within Phuket for seven days or less and then return home can still do so,” he said.

Direct Flights to Phuket

Meanwhile, Thai Airways International announced on its Facebook page they will introduce direct flights from Zurich, Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt and London to Phuket from July 2, 2021.

The timing was in sync with the government’s confirmed decision on Friday to reopen Phuket for international tourists on July 1 on condition that they are fully vaccinated. The tourists must stay on the island for 14 days before they will be allow to travel to other locations in the country.

Thai Airways International also reported they will begin flights from Hong Kong to Phuket, also on July 2, to draw Chinese tourists to the island.

According to the Thai Airways International, they plan to restore its direct flights, and charge a minimum of HK$3,191 for a two-way ticket inclusive of taxes and fees – similar to what it charged before the pandemic.

People travelling from Hong Kong are subject to a 14-day quarantine upon their return if they have been vaccinated, and 21 days if they have not.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Cathay Pacific Airways said their airline was still planning its schedule for July, and did not mention if it would resume flights to Phuket.

Source: The Nation

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