Phuket Sandbox: Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Reports 1,324 Arrivals In The First Three Days

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The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)  has reported a number of 1,324 arrivals on Phuket Island after the so called Phuket Sandbox No Quarantine Arrivals Scheme commenced on July 1, 2021.

After the Prime Minister welcomed the first arrivals in person at Phuket airport (Image provided by the Government House) the daily arrivals are roughly ~ 450 all of whom are distributed among the SHA+ certified hotels on the island.

These numbers are hardly surprising because many if not most of those who arrived in Phuket highly likely aren’t there for tourism but chose to fly to Phuket to circumvent the restrictive and expensive quarantine requirement (ASQ) in Bangkok.

There has been a rush of people to get their documents approved and to arrive in fear of the system being shut down again at a later point.

Please refer to my previous article with most details about the Sandbox program.

The Bangkok Post reported today that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is monitoring the numbers of arrivals closely and promised to publish them.

More than 1,300 foreign visitors have arrived in Phuket over the past three days under the quarantine-free “sandbox” scheme.

Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Phuket Office, said on Saturday 326 tourists arrived at the resort island on Thursday, 514 on Friday and 484 yesterday afternoon, bringing the total number of foreign visitors to 1,324 since the start of the scheme.

Ms Nanthasiri said her Phuket office will collect tourist figures every day which will be made public.

The government expects about 100,000 foreign tourists will travel to Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox Model during the third quarter of this year from July to September, kickstarting tourism again after a quiet patch.

Thai Airways International yesterday brought another 122 tourists on three flights from Europe to the resort island.

The three flights from Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Paris yesterday carried 158 passengers, 122 of whom disembarked in Phuket, while the rest went on to Bangkok.

They were among 484 passengers on seven flights scheduled to land in Phuket yesterday afternoon.

The number of tourists planning to stay in Phuket on the other four flights has not yet been confirmed.

None of the arrivals over the past two days have tested positive for Covid-19, authorities said.

Phuket reported seven local infections yesterday, bringing its third-wave toll to 746 cases and seven deaths.

So far, 67% of the local population of around 400,000 have been fully vaccinated while 84% have had at least their first dose, according to figures released on Friday. …

It will remain to be seen how steady these numbers will develop over the coming weeks and months and how the profile of the travelers arriving will turn out.

I’ve spoken to three General Managers of large chain hotels in Phuket and according to them all of the arrivals they had (as far as they met the guests and were able to inquire) came to the island “in transit” and will continue to the mainland following their 14 day minimum stay period in Phuket.

This confirms the initial assumption that there won’t be all too many tourists right now (during the rainy season) but that really won’t matter all too much in the current situation. A slow start will allow authorities to stress test the Sandbox model and decide about modifications for the better or worse.

According to the Bangkok Post article THAI is now operating flights to Phuket in line with the government’s policy to stimulate tourism and the economy and had arranged five direct flights from Europe to Phuket. Further flights are being operated on a semi-regular schedule.

In addition to Phuket, Koh Samui has announced a reopening in a similar way to the Sandbox on July 15, 2021. This is called the Samui Plus Model (SPM) and according to the linked article under the SPM, in the first seven days of arrival, foreign visitors must remain on Koh Samui. During this period, days 1-3 will be spent in quarantine and days 4-7 travelling in sealed routes. Only from days 8 to 14 will they be able to travel freely. Tourists will be subject to Covid-19 testing three times; on the first day of arrival, either on day 6 or 7 and either on day 12 or 13.

I haven’t seen any official government or TAT announcement that discusses the Samui model, let alone details about how to apply for a COE or actually travel to Samui from abroad. Hopefully there will be an update soon.

Meanwhile the Covid-19 situation in Thailand continues to go in the wrong direction with roughly ~ 6000 official new infection daily as well as ~ 70 people being added to ICU treatment per day.

I still stick with the position that it’s not a good idea to visit Thailand at the moment for purposes of a holiday considering the little recreational value and the overall mood, let alone the state of the pandemic and it’s risks associated with it.

Conclusion

In the first three days 1,324 visitors have been registered to have arrived in Phuket under the Sandbox program, most of which according to our sources planning to continue traveling to the mainland after their 14 days are up.

Since last week travelers can apply for the Phuket Sandbox Certificate of Entry via the weblink of the local Embassy / MFA and fly to Phuket from July 1st onward. This is a very practical solution for those who are living in Thailand and wish to return after having received their vaccine does abroad. Considering the current situation it’s unlikely any “real tourism” is going to take place there under this scheme for the months to come.

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