While the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) informed both the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus programs are going ahead as usual, Krabi and Phang Nga plan to reopen to fully vaccinated international tourists within August.
Mr. Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, Spokesperson of the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) said the Thai Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, had been keeping a close watch on the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus programs and voiced confidence in the plans to revive the economy through tourism by gradually reopening destinations that could ensure the health and safety of both the tourists and local people.
The new COVID-19 cases in Phuket were cited as mainly detected among locals, construction camp workers, and domestic travelers, with only a few cases found among international arrivals. From 1 July until 1 August 2021, Phuket recorded 14,910 international arrivals under the Sandbox program. Of these, 34 tested positive for COVID-19 and had been sent for medical treatment.
Phuket has stepped up screening measures on domestic travelers to contain the local transmission, effective from 3–16 August 2021. The measures are only meant to prevent the spread of the virus from other Thai provinces. At the same time, international arrivals under the Sandbox program can still enter Phuket per the existing rules and regulations.
Surat Thani Province
Meanwhile, the recent report of 54 new cases on Ko Samui from a restaurant cluster has been brought under control. None of the infections were related to foreign tourists under the Samui Plus program or those who continued their journey from the Phuket Sandbox program.
From 15 July to 1 August, Surat Thani recorded 137 international arrivals under the Samui Plus program, with one person testing positive for COVID-19. In addition, there were 211 tourists from the Phuket Sandbox program.
Surat Thani also stepped up COVID-19 control measures, effective from the last week of July until further notice, to safeguard the “Samui Plus’” model.
Phang Nga Province
Krabi and Phang Nga are scheduled to reopen selected areas within this month under a 7+7 model. This will allow foreign tourists under the Sandbox program to reduce the mandatory stay in Phuket from 14 to seven days, after which another seven nights can be spent in Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai, and Railay Beach) and Phang Nga (Khao Lak and Ko Yao).
The 7+7 model aims to provide international tourists with more options to visit multiple destinations during their trip to Thailand. Krabi and Phang Nga are ideal for this, given their proximity to and ease of access from Phuket.
For Phang Nga, Khao Lak can be reached within 1.5 hours by car, while Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai can be reached within 30-40 minutes by boat from Bang Rong Pier.
Krabi, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai, and Railay Beach can be reached within 45-55 minutes from Rassada Pier.
Phuket, Krabi, and Phang Nga have been declared among the 11 Controlled Areas or orange zone provinces in Thailand’s expansion of the COVID-19 restrictions from 3–31 August 2021.
For regular updates on the tourism-related COVID-19 situation in Thailand, visit the TAT Newsroom.