The breakthrough may turn Phuket from a ghost town into a boomtown in October as many foreigners from around the world waiting outside Thailand’s closed borders, may now use it to enter the country and revive their long term relationship with the Land of Smiles. It may also indicate a new more pragmatic, economic minded approach by the government.
Phuket could become a tourist boomtown in October. Thailand announced the first relief for tourists seeking to enter the kingdom on Friday. Long stay tourists can visit Phuket from October 1st but must stay in alternative quarantine at a participating hotel for 14 days. After that period, they can travel within the island. A week later and following the third Covid 19 test, they are free to travel anywhere within the kingdom.
It’s a breakthrough for tourists who wish to return to Phuket this year and for all foreigners who are waiting for an end to the Covid 19 nightmare that has denied them free access to Thailand.
On Friday, the Governor of Thailand’s Tourism Authority, Yuthasak Supasorn, told the news agency Reuters that tourists seeking long stay holidays in Phuket will be allowed access to the island from October.
Alternative quarantine scheme within a 1 km hotel radius allowing access to the seashore
The new dispensation comes with restrictions such as that the tourists will be limited to staying in the alternative quarantine system but within a 1 km radius of their hotel giving them access to the seashore in many instances.
During quarantine, each tourist will be expected to undertake and pass two Covid 19 tests as happens now in the quarantine network which is currently welcoming hundreds of foreigners each day who have obtained certificates of entry.
After 14 days tourists can access the island
After the 14 days quarantine expires, Mr Yuthasak revealed that the tourists will be free to travel within the island of Phuket. However, after a further week and another test, the tourist may be able to move throughout the kingdom.
It effectively means that Phuket may now become, for a period, the gate through which many from among the hundreds of thousands of foreigners stranded outside Thailand since the end of March can gain access.
These would be foreigners who may not have been eligible, up to now, to obtain a certificate of entry from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok since entry requirements were widened in May, June and July.
One obvious example are men with common law Thai wives or girlfriends. However, the take-up on this offer will be on a far wider scale.
Thailand has, this week, extended the state of emergency in the kingdom until the end of September.
Victory at last for Minister of Tourism, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, after so many disappointments
This proposal was pushed hard this week by beleaguered Minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, as officials from the Centre for Covid 19 Situation Administration (CCSA) were seen visiting Phuket.
It is understood that he also received the support of new Economic Czar, Minister of Energy and former PTT boss Supattanapong Punmeechaow.
Mr Phiphat has in the last few months seen proposal after proposal rejected by the health-minded Centre for Covid Situation Administration (CCSA).
May be the influence of the government’s new Economic Recovery group with new ministers
Thailand, this week, also announced a new Centre of Economic Recovery chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha which aims to counterbalance the work of the Covid 19 Centre which has driven all government decision making in Thailand since the emergency was declared.
Both bodies are chaired by the Thai PM.
‘On October 1st, we will start in Phuket,’ Mr Yuthasak declared on Friday.
Tourism leader warned in early August of hotel closures in Phuket as many hotels could not pay loans
Bhuritt Maswongssa of the Tourism Council of Thailand, who is based in Phuket, had warned in early August that most of the hotels on the island with loans were facing severe financial difficulties and feared that a wave of closures was inevitable.
In recent months, videos have emerged of the once-thriving tourist mecca looking like a ghost town.
This development is likely to drive a wave of tourism to Phuket from October leading to what many foreigners are hoping for, safe and reasonable access to the country that many see as a home from home. Phuket could well become a boom town in October.
Research has shown that, outside of Thailand, in western countries alone, there are five to seven million people who follow what is happening in the country and who are regular visitors to the kingdom.
Further details still required on the proposal
Further details are still required as commercial airspace still remains closed and airlines have already been cancelling flights to Thailand for October and indeed November.
The first question will be flights and travel arrangements. The next will be the type of visa which will mean a minimum 30-day stay.
One facet that has been revealed by the tourism boss is that staff in hotels participating in this scheme will be required not to leave their place of employment.
This suggests stringent security and medical health measures.