Around the world, the feeling seems to be that the tide has turned in the battle against Covid-19. With increasing numbers of both domestic and international destinations now becoming legitimate travel options, travelers would be forgiven for thinking that the end was in sight.
Even countries that are having a rough time of it at the moment are still determined to reopen their borders, including Thailand. Despite worrying numbers posted recently, the Land of Smiles has reaffirmed that their plan to open Phuket in July is still to go ahead. Here’s everything you need to know about the situation so far.
Covid-19 In Thailand – A Tale of Two Years
For most countries around the world, it’s fair to say that 2020 under the pandemic was worse than 2021 is shaping up to be. The initial shock of unprecedented lockdowns and travel restrictions last year soon gave way to vaccination drives and the easing of restrictions this year, putting many people right on the path towards normality. Yet in Thailand, it has been the other way around.
The year 2020 saw Thailand receive global recognition for their efforts towards stemming the spread of the virus. Tough lockdowns and decisive action by the Thai government saw the country posting extremely low figures for a country of its size, failing to report more than a thousand daily cases throughout the year.
However, 2021 has been much tougher for the Southeast Asian nation. Just last week, the country posted a new high of 9,635 cases in one day, and the country at present has a rolling 7-day average of 3,684 cases. A mixture of importing cases from neighbouring countries as a result of their porous borders, holiday travel and a slow vaccine roll-out is behind the high figures, but the country is determined not to let it affect their plans for reopening.
Phuket Scheme Gets The Green Light
Phuket is set to offer vaccinated international arrivals the opportunity to visit – without the need to quarantine upon arrival. Quarantine in Thailand isn’t cheap, and so the opportunity is widely expected by Thai officials to be popular, with 129,000 international arrivals expected by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in the first three months of the scheme.
Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, relies heavily on tourism and is one of the country’s most visited locations. As a result, it was a natural choice to reopen for tourists, and the scheme is still going ahead on July 1st despite the high infection rate in the country. Vaccination is underway on the island, with 100,000 residents having received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. In order to reach herd-immunity levels of protection on the island, the island must vaccinate another 210,000 residents in the next six weeks.
Tourists will need to fly directly to the island, with the opportunity to transit through Suvarnabhumi Airport via a sealed terminal to ensure safety available. Governor of the TAT, Yuthasak Supasorn, said that seven-day tour packages on the island will cost in the region of 150,000 – 200,000 baht, figures that are considerably higher than the typical expenditure amongst tourists prior to the pandemic.
At present in Thailand, the country is operating a color-coded system that classifies provinces according to their risk level. Phuket is currently an “orange” zone, which means people are allowed to dine in at restaurants at normal hours, whilst the capital Bangkok is under the most severe restrictions as a “dark red” zone.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com