In a regular year, hordes of tourists by the millions descend on the beaches, markets and islands of Thailand in search of sun, scenery and some sort of spiritual awakening. This year and the one that preceded it, however, are not regular years, and now Thailand finds itself devoid of the tourists that keep so many people employed.
However, the “Phuket Sandbox” scheme concocted by the Thai government offers hope for those in the tourism trade, and the first wave of tourists entering as part of the scheme landed in Thailand today. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Phuket Sandbox – Information For Travelers
At several points over the past few weeks, serious doubts of whether the sandbox scheme would even go ahead had arisen, following a back-and-forth between the government and those in charge in Phuket about the finer details of the plan. However, with the 1st of July now upon us, Phuket got it together in the end and welcomed its first sandbox travelers today.
Travelers from 67 different countries are permitted to enter under the sandbox scheme, including the USA, the UK and Canada. They must obtain a Certificate of Entry, as well as a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before travel, and an insurance policy that covers treatment for Covid-19 with coverage worth no less than $100,000. On top of this, travelers must also provide payment confirmation for no less than 14 nights stay and PCR tests at hotels approved by the Thai government.
Once travelers arrive in Phuket, they must take a Covid-19 test and download an alert application, after which they must stay on the island for 14 days. Once the 14 days are up, they are free to travel out of the province and around Thailand as they please. However, travelers should be aware that the Covid-19 situation in the country means that some areas, such as Bangkok are experiencing more severe restrictions, such as in-house dining in restaurants being banned for the time being.
Phuket’s First Arrivals
A plane landed in Phuket today carrying the first sandbox passengers of the scheme, and it was greeted by a water tunnel provided by two fire trucks on the runway to celebrate its arrival. Flight EY430 arrived in Phuket from Abu Dhabi at 10:20 AM and was carrying 25 tourists, who touched down and went through the necessary entrance procedures before being free to explore the island.
Three more flights are scheduled to be touching down in Phuket carrying sandbox passengers. A flight from Qatar will bring 136 passengers, a flight from Israel will see 137 passengers land on the island whilst an airplane from close neighbors Singapore will being a further 100 sandbox guests.
Whilst the initial numbers may appear to be on the low side, they are expected to rise. According to a spokesman for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tanee Sangrat, 6,020 travelers have registered for Phuket Sandbox. Of the 6,020, a total of 3,034 vaccine certificates have been approved, and 1,379 Certificates of Entry (COE) have been issued. For July 1st, 323 COEs have been issued, whilst the 2nd and 3rd of July have seen 471 and 279 COEs issued respectively. There are 4,262 applications currently being processed. Given the sandbox has now launched without a hitch, the number of applicants could rise in the next few weeks, whilst the country is also hoping to fully reopen in the coming months.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com