Travel experiment in Thailand
Holidays in tropical islands in Southeast Asia like Bali and Langkawi became a distant memory during the pandemic. And with a resurgence in Covid-19 in much of the region this year, coupled with the slow distribution of vaccines, a return to normalcy is pending.
But Thailand has other ideas.
The nation relied on tourism wants to allow quarantine trips to Phuket Island, one of its main holiday destinations famous for its pristine beaches and vibrant nightlife. Starting July 1, for the first time in more than a year, visitors would be able to enter and roam the island immediately, provided they are inoculated against Covid-19 and do not come from places considered risky. high.
Known as The ‘Phuket Sandbox’ plan is an important test case, not only for Thailand, but for the rest of the region ‘s holiday destinations, says Banyan Tree Holdings founder and CEO Ho Kwon Ping.
“Every government has started to feel about how to open up, and Sandbox Phuket is really a worthwhile way now because even the travel bubbles people were talking about did not happen,” says Ho, who runs an empire of the time. and property of 48 hotels and resorts in more than a dozen places.
In addition to the Indonesian island of Bali, he says the plan could be followed by China’s Hainan and Phu Quoc in southern Vietnam, which are also islands.
For Thailand, the pressure is great to make it work. Foreign visitor numberswas said last year and a special visa program started before the peak season during the Northern Hemisphere winter did little to increase numbers. In 2019, a year before the pandemic, the country welcomed more than 3 million international visitors per month on average, and the tourism industry contributed about one-fifth of gross domestic product.
The plan of Phuket depends onvaccination rate among islanders hitting at least 70%. It currently stands at around 60%, well above 5% nationwide, following a joint effort to vaccinate locals.
The final details of the plan were approved by the Thai Covid-19 Task Force on Friday, with the approval of the potential Cabinet this coming week.
But those looking for the sun may still want to wait before packing their flip flops and pareos. Even if the Sandbox Phuket goes ahead, travelers may have to quarantine when they return to their seats. While issues in Phuket are minimal, they have increased fivefold over the past two months in Thailand overall and the government says it may again impose restrictions if the reopening of Phuket leads to an increase in local cases.
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