The news came via a survey of 17,000 people conducted through the TAT’s 29 branches worldwide, Mr Yuthasak told a meeting at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket resort yesterday (Mar 30).
The meeting was held to discuss the plan and preparations to reopen Phuket to vaccinated international tourists on July 1, in the hope of reopening the whole country to vaccinated tourists from Oct 1.
Present at the meeting were Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew and a host of other top-ranking Phuket officials, along with TAT Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, Phuket Tourist Association President Bhummikitti Raktaengam.
“To open the island without quarantine, we will open for only vaccinated tourists, and our people must be vaccinated before the reopening is allowed,” Governor Yuthasak explained.
As for tourists, Mr Yuthasak stressed, “Some people will be vaccinated with vaccines requiring two injections, others will be vaccinated by only one injection, either way only tourists who have been vaccinated will be allowed to come.”
Mr Yuthasak noted that the government will support Phuket’s request for more than 900,000 doses of COVID vaccine to inoculate at least 70% of the island’s population to make the July 1 reopening possible.
“For the coming 100,000 doses of vaccines, they will be provided to people who work in the tourism industry first in order to boost confidence among tourists,” he said.
Regardless, Mr Yuthasak also stressed the point, “We must follow what the CCSA [Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration in Bangkok] approves.”
So far the plan is for the ‘0+7’ ‘sealed route’ plan to be in effect ‒ in Phuket only ‒ from tomorrow (Apr 1) through to June 30, Mr Yuthasak explained.
Under the ‘0+7’ policy, vaccinated tourists must observe seven days quarantine after arriving in Phuket. If they test negative on arrival, tourists can immediately venture out to “designated areas” within the hotel, but which may include separated beach areas in front of the hotel.
After seven days, if the tourists still test negative, they are allowed to engage in leisure tourism activities in specified areas.
The big push was to launch the Phuket Tourism Sandbox model on July 1, under which Phuket will serve as the testbed for the country in allowing vaccinated international tourists to land on the island and enjoy their holidays without serving any mandatory quarantine.
“From July 1, inPhuket only, there will be no quarantine for vaccinated tourists,” Mr Yuthasak said.
However, tourists must show evidence that they have been vaccinated, they must test negative on arrival, and they must install the ThailandPlus tracking app on their phones.
Also from July 1, the ‘0+7’ sealed route plan is to start in Krabi, Phang Nga, Koh Samui, Chonburi (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai, Mr Yuthasak said.
From Oct 1, the plan is for no quarantine at all for all vaccinated tourists entering the country, he said.
Mr Yuthasak said that a mass survey conducted through TAT offices worldwide has indicated very strong demand among potential travellers wanting to come Thailand, especially among potential tourists who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We have conducted a survey of 17,000 people by officers in our 29 overseas offices. The result showed that people from countries both near and far listed Thailand as their first choice as a travel destination,” Mr Yuthasak said.
Of the 17,000 respondents, 4,518 were already vaccinated against COVID-19, he said.
“Most of them explained that they want to go to the places where local people are vaccinated, and where they were not required to observe quarantine,” Mr Yuthasak explained.
“The destinations they want to go are Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Hua Hin, respectively. They would also rather come this year than next year,” he added.
However, Mr Yuthasak pointed out that just reopening the borders was not enough to attract vaccinated tourists.
“Phuket must develop the existing tourist attractions and create new places to attract more tourists in order to archive the central government’s goal for economic recovery,” he said.