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Phuket Reopening Facing Problems As Bangkok Goes Into Lockdown

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It’s been a tale of two years as far as the pandemic goes in Thailand. Their initial success in combating the spread of Covid-19 has evaporated, with the country this week setting new records for both the highest number of daily cases and deaths.

Thailand’s Sandbox Scheme Under Threat Whilst Bangkok Goes Into Lockdown

The country is trying its best to reopen, with the Phuket sandbox scheme bring in thousands of foreign tourists for the first time in months. However, recent positive test results and absconding by inbound travelers has cast the scheme into doubt, whilst the capital Bangkok goes into lockdown today. Here’s a look at the situation in Thailand, and what it could mean for the future of travel.

phuket town

Phuket Sandbox Woes – Information for Travelers

Thailand is a country that relies heavily on tourism. Not only does the travel and tourism industry contribute more than 20% of the country’s total GDP, but it is also responsible for employing around 12% of the population. The lack of tourists visiting the country as a result of the pandemic has hit the country hard, which led to the government launching the Phuket sandbox scheme.

chalong phuket temple

Launching on July 1st, the sandbox scheme allowed fully vaccinated travelers from low and medium-risk countries to visit the island of Phuket – Thailand’s largest island and one of its most popular destinations for tourists – without having to quarantine. Not only are they free to roam the island, but once they have been there for 14-days they are free to visit other destinations in the country.

patong beach phuket thailand

The island has been welcoming its first major wave of foreign tourists since it launched, who have been greeted at the airports by scores of the press and welcoming dignitaries. However, a few problems in the past week has caused doubts to be raised about the future of the program.

phuket old town

A passenger on a flight from the UAE, arriving as part of a tour group, tested positive for Covid-19 at the airport, and became the first traveler entering as part of the scheme to do so. As a result, not only does the passenger have to stay in a quarantine facility, but the people who arrived as part of his tour group – as well as the taxi drivers and hotel staff he came into contact with – must also head into quarantine. Having to foot the bill for both the hotels they had booked and the quarantine they find themselves in, members of the tour group have asked to be able to fly home.

With similar sandboxes scheduled to launch on July 15th that will allow tourists to visit famous islands such as Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, the affair has dampened the confidence in the scheme amongst both Thai and foreign travelers, with many questioning whether it will last for much longer. To date, 3,287 travelers have entered Phuket as part of the sandbox and have booked a total of 155,736 nights in Phuket’s hotels.

Another incident that’s bound to knock the confidence of prospective travelers is the current situation in the capital, Bangkok. With cases rising, the city and several other provinces have gone into a mini-lockdown of sorts. This will include a curfew between 9PM and 4AM, as well as a closure of department stores, parks and curbs put on gatherings of more than 5 people, which will deprive inbound travelers of an authentic slice of life in Bangkok.

Phuket Set To Welcome Vaccinated Tourists From July

Read More:

Thailand Prime Minister Says Country Will Fully Reopen Within 120 Days

Thailand Confirms Entry Requirements For Phuket Reopening In July

Travel Insurance That Covers Covid-19 For 2021

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


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EdwardV

Saturday 10th of July 2021

It wasn’t just the UAE group that was forced into an ASQ hotel for 14 days. There were other passengers on that flight who were force into an ASQ also, people who were not part of the group and were just unlucky to be seated close by instead. Just yesterday two other groups were sent to ASQ quarantine for 14 days. Seems two children, one in each groups tested positive on the second test. The children were sent to the hospital, the parents and everyone else to a 14 day ASQ quarantine. Keep in mind you lose your hotel deposit, you pay for an ASQ at about three times the rate and for those in an ASQ your insurance doesn’t cover you. Remember the Covid insurance only pays for treatment, not isolation. Even normal travel insurance probably doesn’t cover you.

Bayo

Saturday 10th of July 2021

If only Thailand knows the riak of accepting foreigners in the name of sandbox, in economics, you have to weigh the risk and gain,, but in this case no gain can outweigh the lost of human lives,,Many countries have technology but no food , yet they can survive,, Thailand is one of the highest exporter of food ,if not number one , yet they are not comfortable with it,,,Food and medicine are the top priority,,Lock up your country, forget luxury life for now ,,keep your food, borrow money for medical purposes, , Force the citizens to stay home and allow the medical experts to handle the situation,, it will bring heavy loss and affect the economy but it will prevent the heavy lost of lives ,, suffer temporally, and rejoice forever, NO MONEY FROM TOURISTS SCHEME WHATEVER CAN EVER BRING BACK ANY LOST SOUL OR CLEAN THE TEARS OF THE PEOPLE THAT LOST LOVED ONES,,IF YOU HAVE NOT LOST ANYONE IN THE FAMILY, YOU MAY THINK THAT SANDBOX SOUNDS GOOD,, Remember, with deadly variants in the country, people, with high blood sugar, HP, Cancer, HIV, HPB, and many other health issues, stand no or little chance of survival,, maybe 5-10 percent chance,,but without the virus in the country, all these people are important and deserve the chance to correct their health issues and live longer Life,,I wish all the best to Thailand and God will surely intercede,,Amen

Liberty

Saturday 10th of July 2021

Insane. What a world we now live in. Hope that WEF money is worth it, Thailand.

Pail gibson

Sunday 11th of July 2021

@Liberty, they all talk about they are happy they done the sandbox but u never see then telling u the total cost of the 14 days we all the the hassle and hoops u must jump through but never the cost

Mark D Kuhn

Saturday 10th of July 2021

@Liberty, Do the math .3,200 people come for 14days.How does that come up to 155,000 hotel bookings?Thai government is the problem in Thailand.My wife is Thai and we feel so sorry for the Thai people!