Launched on 1 July 2021, until 31 July the Phuket Sandbox program received 14,055 foreign tourists, generating THB 829 million in revenue for the local economy. Thus informed the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The largest source market was the U.S. with 1,802 arrivals, followed by the UK with 1,558, Israel with 1,455, Germany with 847, and France with 839 arrivals.
TAT expects 100,000 foreign tourists to visit Phuket in Q3 2021 (July-September) and inject around THB 8.9 billion in revenue for Thailand.
Fully vaccinated and able to enter Phuket without the need to quarantine –as the Phuket Sandbox program allows–, these first tourists came on direct international flights operated by major airlines from different places around the world. These included Thai Airways International (THAI) from Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Paris, London, and Zurich, Singapore Airlines from Singapore, Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi, Emirates from Dubai, Qatar Airways from Doha, and EL AL Israel Airlines from Tel Aviv.
Accommodation-wise, the arrivals for July saw 190,843 room nights booked at SHA Plus-certified hotels. August has 109,694 room nights in advance bookings, and September another 9,182 room nights, altogether amounting to 309,719 room nights for the July-September period.
Tourists are required to stay at SHA Plus certified hotels in Phuket for their added safety. SHA Plus certification indicates a hotel meets the safety measures to control COVID-19, where also 70 percent of its workforce has been fully vaccinated.
The THB 829 million in revenue for July included THB 282 million spent on accommodation, THB 194 million on the purchase of products and services, THB 175 million on food and beverage, and THB 124 million on health and medical services. Among the 14,055 tourist arrivals, the average cost of their vacation to Phuket was THB 58,982.
One of the key benefits of the Phuket Sandbox program has been the creation of THB 210 million in salaries for the local employees in the accommodation, restaurant, and other sectors. The local provincial authorities and the Thai government have been taking the necessary health and safety measures to safely reopen Phuket by putting anti-COVID protocols in place, including the vaccination program for the island’s population. As of 30 July 2021, 89 percent of the people had received their first vaccine dose, while 69 percent had received both doses.
With the pilot destination of Phuket – and as of 15 July, Surat Thani’s Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, and Ko Tao – having reopened to tourism, the next two destinations are set to follow within August. These are Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai, and Railay Beach) and Phang Nga (Khao Lak and Ko Yao), where fully vaccinated foreign tourists will be able to visit the selected areas in each destination under a 7+7 model. This model will reduce the mandatory stay in Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox program from 14 to 7 days, following which seven nights can then be spent in Krabi and Phang Nga.
The idea behind the 7+7 model is to provide foreign 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.