As countries around the world begin slowly reopening their borders and easing travel restrictions, it has been interesting observing the different approaches to doing so. Some countries appear to be more spontaneous in their actions, announcing changes with immediate effect, whereas others wait until certain criteria have been met before setting a date in the near future.
And then, there’s Thailand. The jewel of Southeast Asia revealed this week that they are planning to fully reopen – within 120 days. Here’s more on what was announced, plus some updates on the country’s Phuket sandbox scheme.
Opening Within 120 Days – Information For Travelers
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha has committed to fully reopening the country within 120 days. Speaking on national television, the Prime Minister said:
“I am setting a goal for us to be able to declare Thailand fully open within 120 days from today, and for tourism centres that are ready, to do so even faster.”
Speaking about the timing of the decision, the Prime Minister admitted that the move wasn’t without risk – but conceded the economic situation in the country meant that it was a risk they had to take. “When we take into consideration the economic needs of people, the time has now come for us to take that calculated risk,” he said, before adding “we cannot wait for a time when everyone is fully vaccinated with two shots, or for when the world is free of the virus, to reopen the country.”
Adding details to the plan, the Prime Minister said that fully vaccinated visitors and Thai citizens returning to the country should be allowed to enter “without quarantine or other inconvenient restrictions”. Thailand’s strict state quarantine rules have long been a bone of contention for travelers, with the prices seen by many as prohibitive, so this move is bound to have a positive impact on inbound tourism numbers. The reopening is also expected to see businesses in Thailand resume their normal operations and allow travelers to travel freely across the country, putting dreams of island hopping firmly back on the menu. More details are expected to be announced in the coming days.
Whilst the news that the country is planning to fully reopen is undoubtedly good news for travelers, the timing has taken some by surprise. Compared to this time last year, the Covid-19 situation has grown worse, with today’s statistics showing a 7-day average daily case figure of 2,767. The country also also laboring through a slow vaccine rollout, with fewer than 2 million people fully vaccinated to date.
Phuket Sandbox – Updates For Travelers
Prior to the wider reopening of the country to the masses, Thailand plans to go ahead with its Phuket sandbox scheme, opening up its largest, most popular island to tourists who will be able to enter and explore without having to quarantine beforehand on July 1st. Travelers must stay on the island for a period of 14 days before traveling to anywhere else in the country. However, some peculiar features of the plan were revealed this week.
It was announced that travelers arriving as part of the reopening scheme must wear a location-tracking wristband that will work alongside an app to track their whereabouts. The province will also install cameras with facial recognition capabilities in order to try and detect any tourists who try to leave Phuket before completing the mandatory 14-day stay.
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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