The Tourism and Sports Ministry is discussing reopening three Andaman provinces – Phuket, Phang-nga, Krabi – to foreign tourists without quarantine in a “sandbox” project before the country’s full reopening scheduled for October.
Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn revealed that his team had discussed the possibility with governors and tourism businesses in the three southern provinces.
Thailand and other countries are negotiating the possibility of a “city-to-city” or “island-to-island” travel bubble so that vaccinated tourists visiting the kingdom can visit designated Thai cities or islands without the need for quarantine.
This process will be submitted to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration to consider on March 19.
If approved, the sandbox model will go ahead in the three southern provinces first because all three generated income of Bt600 billion, accounting for around one-fifth, or Bt3 trillion, of total countrywide tourism revenue in 2019, with Phuket alone earning Bt470 billion and Krabi Bt100 billion.
Sandbox models can be started under the condition that 70 per cent of the people in each area have been vaccinated.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry has discussed the issue with the Public Health Ministry, requesting that residents in the three provinces be vaccinated. Some 3 million vaccine doses will be needed for the purpose.
“According to the timeline set by the government, foreigners will be allowed to travel to Thailand [later this year] without quarantine.
But we want to do it faster. We hope this can be done starting with Phuket in July under the condition that at least 70 per cent of its population is vaccinated – a requirement of 900,000 doses for 450,000 people,” Phiphat said.