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
Thursday 27th of May 2021
Thailand as Thailand does things... we need to wait until the hassle fades away, and only time can do the job. Time and the guinea pigs that will go to Phuket first!!! As someone who loves thailand so much for good I will skip phuket as i skip pattaya, with thousands of better places to go by far. I miss my thai friends that´s for sure, and so much sorry for them having such a hard time these days as they live in a tourist driven country. Hopefully the local will be there again for a 50 baht pad krapao shared tasty dinner.
Land Of Scams
Saturday 22nd of May 2021
I am currently in Kata Beach area of Phuket, and 90% of Karon, Patong, Kamala, Bang Tao, and Kata, is closed. Hotels and airlines bankrupt. Never returned money spent to tourists who previously booked. Be careful with your money. Government in Thailand is useless, and flip flops on their decisions everyday. Their "word" is mud.
Saturday 22nd of May 2021
What is this "7-Day Tour Package" about?? Is it required or what?
Tuesday 25th of May 2021
@Chris G, no it isn’t. You can book your own travel (air and hotel) to Phuket for considerably less money.
Friday 21st of May 2021
From someone who travels to Thailand often and can’t wait to go back, I wouldn’t be booking airfare just yet. First that 200k more vaccinated people need to be done within the next 4 weeks. That number doesn’t even count all the people from other provinces who come to work in Phuket. Tall order to say the least. Second while Thailand hopes for July 1, they still have not set it in stone. Even worse none of the details have even been announced yet. Things like multiple testing requirements, insurance, any travel restrictions while on the island, and minimum stay before being allow to travel outside of Phuket. Next the tourist areas of Phuket look almost post apocalyptic. Some 80% of all the hotels and businesses have been closed for months. It’s going to take some time to reopen. Last this is actually the low (read rainy) season in Phuket all the way to November. Personally I’d give it a few months and see how things are progressing.
Tuesday 8th of June 2021
@EdwardV, If they're "smart" (uh, hmm) vaxed gets you in with no other reqs., i.e. testing/insurance/app, etc. etc.
Tuesday 25th of May 2021
@EdwardV, I agree. I want to get back to Thailand, but without knowing specifics, etc.. it's like rolling dice. I have questions like, where can I go on Phuket? Can I go to Kho Yao Yai or other islands? If I arrive on a Saturday, can I fly to Chaing Rai on the following Friday?
I agree that there are too many open ended questions to commit the limited time I have to the unknown.