In the first month of the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ programme since its launch on 1 July, over 14,000 foreign tourists have visited Phuket, and generated THB829 million (USD25 million) revenue, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
For the period of 1-31 July 2021, total international arrivals amounted to 14,055, with the largest source market being the USA with 1,802 arrivals. This was followed by the UK with 1,558 arrivals, Israel with 1,455 arrivals, Germany with 847 arrivals, and France with 839 arrivals.
The THB829m in revenue for July included THB282m spent on accommodation, THB194m on the purchase of products and services, THB175m on food and beverage, and THB124m on health and medical services. Among the 14,055 tourist arrivals, the average cost of their vacation to Phuket was THB 58,982.
Crucially, one of the key benefits of the Phuket Sandbox programme has been the creation of THB210m in salaries for the local employees in the accommodation, restaurant, and other sectors.
Fully vaccinated travellers are able to enter Phuket without the need to undergo quarantine via direct flights to the island operated by Thai Airways International (THAI) from Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Paris, London, and Zurich, Singapore Airlines from Singapore, Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi, Emirates from Dubai, Qatar Airways from Doha, and EL AL Israel Airlines from Tel Aviv.
Tourists are required to stay at SHA Plus certified hotels in Phuket for their added safety. SHA Plus certification indicates a hotel meets the safety measures to control COVID-19, and also that 70% of its workforce has been fully vaccinated.
All the while, the commitment of the local provincial authorities and the Thai government to safely reopen Phuket has continued. Along with the necessary health and safety measures put in place and the proper protocols effected, this also involves the vaccination programme for the island’s population. As of 30 July 2021, 89% of the people had received their first vaccine dose, while 69% had received both doses.
TAT expects 100,000 foreign tourists will visit Phuket in the third quarter of 2021 (July-September) and will inject some THB8.9 billion (USD268m) of revenue into the local economy.
With the pilot destination of Phuket – and as of 15 July, Surat Thani’s Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao – having reopened to tourism, the next two destinations are set to follow within August.
These are Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai and Railay Beach) and Phang Nga (Khao Lak and Ko Yao), where fully vaccinated foreign tourists will be able to visit the selected areas in each destination under a 7+7 model. This model will reduce the mandatory stay in Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox programme from 14 to 7 days, following which 7 nights can then be spent in Krabi and Phang Nga.
The idea behind the 7+7 model is to provide foreign tourists with more options to visit multiple destinations during their trip to Thailand. Krabi and Phang Nga are ideal for this given their proximity to and ease of access from Phuket.