Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports Phlipat Ratchakitprakarn said the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Thai Chamber of Commerce this month to support domestic trips to Phuket, which could build local confidence.
He said chamber members can start taking trips from July 1 as part of the scheme to help reassure both vaccinated foreigners and Thais that they can safely travel to Phuket. In terms of pending domestic stimuli, the ministry has to wait for progress on inoculations in June and July before re-launching tourism subsidies in August.
Businesses have responded cautiously to the sandbox plan to reopen Phuket to vaccinated foreign tourists next month, as operators aren’t confident they will be able to draw tourists back to the resort island due to the tough requirements it imposes on incoming tourists.
As a precaution, tourists will have to remain on the island for 14 days before they are allowed to move on to other destinations in the country. This is twice as many days as previously announced at 7 days.
Despite the reservations, Sonthaya Khongthip, president of a community enterprise, agro-tourism, and conservation group in the Bangthao-Choeng Talay community, said the community is ready to support the reopening. He said: “The 14-day stay requirement will benefit local producers. We want tourists to spend money in communities selling local products.
“Without tourist arrivals, Phuket will become a ghost town. Without [the sandbox scheme], the country cannot move forward.”
Minister Ratchakitprakarn said after the Phuket sandbox scheme receives approval from the Center for Economic Situation Administration, it is halfway to receiving full official endorsement. The next step will be for the Phuket sandbox agenda to be published in the Royal Thai Government Gazette, frequently abbreviated to Government Gazette or Royal Gazette, which is the public journal and newspaper of record of Thailand. Laws passed by the government generally come into force after publication in the GG. The Thailand Government has guaranteed the plan will go ahead as scheduled once published in the Government Gazette.
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