Thailand's stunning islands are beginning to welcome back tourists.
Four international airlines are due to take-off for Phuket in August. Cathay Pacific, Thai Vietjet, Gulf Air and Oman Air are all set to start flying next month as part of the island’s ‘sandbox’ reopening programme.
The sandbox launched in July and offers a quarantine-free welcome to Phuket for travellers who have been fully vaccinated.
Due to increased travel demand, Gulf Air will be laying on one flight a week from Bahrain starting July 30, Thai Vietjet will be flying between Singapore and Phuket twice a week from August, Cathay is set to launch flights between Hong Kong and Phuket from August 10 and Oman Air will be flying from Muscat to Phuket three times a week beginning in August.
Singapore Airlines will also be increasing its schedule from one to two flights a day until October.
Travellers to Phuket must take a Covid test within 72 hours of departure, must be fully vaccinated and must hold travel insurance with Covid-19 cover. Children under six years old do not need to take a test and children aged six to 18 years do not have to be vaccinated but they must take a test.
After seven days, visitors can travel to islands in Krabi province, Khao Lak area and islands in Surat Thani province, including Koh Samui. After 14 days in Phuket, they are permitted to travel throughout the country (subject to local travel restrictions).
Since the launch of the sandbox, more than 11,000 holidaymakers have arrived in Phuket, with just 26 testing positive for Covid-19. More than 275,000 hotel nights have been booked between July and September.
Despite an increase in infections, Phuket governor Narong Woonsew has said the Phuket sandbox will continue but with tightened screening measures for Thai travellers.
“After a discussion with the provincial governor yesterday (July 27), the province will not stop the Phuket sandbox,” Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told the Bangkok Post. “But we have to stay on high alert to try to decrease daily infections over the next seven days to allow the programme to sustain in the long run.”
It’s believed rising infection numbers on the island have been driven by Thai residents, particularly those travelling from ‘red zones’ looking for work in Phuket.
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