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Phuket sandbox opens to the world

Thailand is loosening its entrance requirements for holidaymakers.

Phuket is now welcoming holidaymakers from any destination.

In a statement issued by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, fully vaccinated travellers from any country can book a stay in either Phuket or other Thai destinations taking part in the so-called ‘sandbox’ scheme.

Provinces such as Phuket that are eligible to take part in the sandbox scheme can welcome international visitors quarantine-free, although tourists must comply with a number of entrance requirements including multiple testing. They must remain in Phuket for a 14 day ‘quarantine’ before being allowed to travel elsewhere within the country.

Previously, Thailand only allowed entry to tourists from around 80 eligible countries. Notably, Malaysians were excluded from travelling to Phuket and neighbouring islands, despite Malaysia providing Thailand with its second biggest tourist source pre-pandemic. In 2019, more than four million Malaysians holidayed in Thailand.

The opening up of the sandbox scheme is part of an expanded push to revive Thailand’s tourism industry, although its success is likely to be curbed by foreign travel advisories. England has placed Thailand on its ‘red list’ and both Britain and the United States have travel advisories against travel to Thailand.

Further softening of restrictions include halving the quarantine period to seven days and allowing vaccinated travellers to travel on to on to Phangnga and Krabi on landing in Phuket, although they must then remain there for seven days.

Thailand’s tourism ministry is also proposing a series of ‘blue zones’ where there would be no quarantine requirement in provinces including Phuket, Krabi, Phangnga, Surat Thani, Buri Ram and Prachuap Khiri Khan. According to the ministry, around 20 locations could be opened quarantine-free by December if vaccination rates amongst the local population are “adequate”.

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