Thailand is readying to kick off the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ campaign on Thursday to reopen the country’s largest resort island to vaccinated international tourists, a top official said. In a statement on Monday, Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said that hotels and other tourism-related venues throughout the island province have been prepared for the reopening campaign whereas up to 80 per cent of Phuket’s residents will complete their vaccination against Covid-19 by Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.
An estimated 400 to 500 foreign tourists are scheduled to arrive in Phuket on Thursday and many more are expected to follow at later dates, he said.
The ‘Phuket Sandbox’ program was approved on June 4 at a meeting of the Centre for the Economic Situation Administration chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Under the program, foreign tourists will be allowed to enter and move freely on the island, provided they are fully vaccinated against the virus and tested negative.
They can travel to the rest parts of Thailand after staying on the island for 14 nights.
The country has also planned to welcome back vaccinated foreign visitors in nine other provinces, including the capital Bangkok and popular tourist destinations Pattaya and Chiang Mai, in the third or fourth quarter of the year.
But the development comes as Thailand is struggling to contain a months-long surge in infections.
On Monday, the country reported 5,406 Covid-19 cases, the third highest daily tally since the pandemic began, raising the total infection tally to 249,853, with 1,934 deaths.