Tourism officials again are trying to spring Phuket ‘sandbox’ tourists trapped on the island for two weeks after just seven days.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has proposed to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration that the rule requiring foreign tourists and returning Thais and expats be allow to leave Phuket after a week, instead of being confined there for two.
The CCSA may approve the proposal at its meeting today.
The new regulation, if approved, would limit the destinations where Sandboxers could go, however. Out is Bangkok, Chonburi, Chiang Mai or any place foreign expats (and returning Thas) likely live. In are Koh Samui, Koh Phangam and Koh Tao in Surat Thani; Khao Lak, Ko Yao Yai and Ko Yao Noi in Phangnga; and Koh Phi Phi, Railay Beach and Ko Ngai in Krabi.
Of course, this isn’t the first time a seven vs. 14 day window has been proposed. It was approved in late June and quickly revoked as national coronavirus cases soared into the tens of thousands, even though only about 1 in 400 Sandboxers tested positive for Covid-19.
Center for Economic Situation Administration’s spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Phuket has welcomed some 20,000 international visitors since the start of the Phuket sandbox campaign on July 1, but only 55 have tested positive to Covid-19 after arrival, amounting to 0.28 percent infection rate.
The sandbox scheme allows international tourists to come from areas with only low transmission of Covid-19, plus full vaccination with World Health Organization or Thai Food & Drug Administration approved vaccines 14 days prior to arrival.
Thanakorn said the government has urged related agencies to enhance safety measures to protect tourists, and to secure areas that could be dangerous for visitors.
He said visitor safety improvement measures must be implemented, alongside strict Covid-19 screening and security surveillance.