The Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) has confirmed its plans to reopen Phuket to vaccinated international tourists on July 1st, 2021. Despite being one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations – attracting almost 40 million visitors annually – Thailand has been challenging to enter since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“From 1 July, 2021, vaccinated foreign tourists will be allowed to visit Phuket without quarantine, so the countdown starts now to the reopening of Phuket!” said Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor
The Thai authorities will allow visitors from low-risk countries to fly directly to Phuket. It will be the beginning of a pilot scheme named the Phuket Sandbox. The scheme will allow tourists to visit Phuket directly and enjoy a vacation on Thailand’s most popular island without quarantine. However, the Thai authorities haven’t decided on which countries are classed as low-risk.
The TAT will advise international tourists which countries qualify as low-risk in the coming weeks. Travelers can travel elsewhere in Thailand after they’ve spent seven days in Phuket, but they also suggest this is subject to change depending on the COVID-19 situation.
Thailand’s Border Policy During The Pandemic
Thailand has been open for visitors since 2020, but all incoming passengers have had to quarantine in a government hotel. Furthermore, travelers have needed a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the flight. Travelers also need travel insurance that covers treatment for COVID-19 up to the cost of $100,000.
Once you arrive in Thailand, you’ll take a PCR test at the airport. Then, the authorities will take you to government-approved quarantine facilities or alternative state quarantine. Despite the long quarantine process, some travelers have been delighted by the luxury hotels available for quarantine.
In addition, many of these hotels have introduced quarantine packages with excellent facilities and service to make your quarantine duration somewhat more bearable.
Thailand has offered visitors a tourist visa exemption scheme, allowing visitors to stay for up to 45 days. However, they also introduced an STV, which will enable you to stay for 90 days.
You’ll need to visit your local Thai embassy or consulate to obtain this visa, and it must be within your home country. You can renew the STV two times during your stay before having to leave the country or change visas.
The Current COVID-19 Situation In Thailand
Thailand has managed to keep the virus at bay throughout the pandemic. Unfortunately, in recent weeks, the country has witnessed a large spike in cases.
For most of 2020, Thailand kept the pandemic out despite being the first country to record a case outside China. However, COVID-19 cases are around 2,230 per day in recent weeks, with many cases recorded inside prisons.
The country plans to mass-vaccinate its population in the coming months, and the nation has administered 3,609,882 vaccine doses so far. As a result, the country has only vaccinated 3% of its population so far. At that rate, the country will vaccinate 10% of its population in the next 142 days, but the authorities plan to speed this up.
The country aims to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of 2020, allowing the country to fully open up to tourism, an integral part of the economy and almost 18% of GDP before the pandemic began. Thailand has been in-and-out of lockdown in the previous weeks, but Bangkok has eased its lockdown in recent days.
Tourism means a lot to Thailand, and the lack of visitors has wiped billions of dollars off the economy. Thailand believes its hugely important tourism sector may not fully recover until 2026.
Still, the opening of Phuket to vaccinated travelers is a clear sign that the country is preparing itself to open to the world and recover its crushed tourism industry.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com