Phuket Immigration yesterday marked a noticeable increase in the number of international arrivals on the first day of the new measures that are hoped to help Phuket’s tourism industry recover.
Immigration officers at the airport reported 4,824 arrivals yesterday. Previously for weeks the number has hovered in the mid- to high-3,000s, dipping to the 2,000s once a week and spiking into the low-4,000s once a week.
The new entry measures for foreigners entering the country came into effect yesterday (July 1). Tourists are no longer required to register through the Thailand Pass system and no longer required to have US$10,000 COVID insurance.
However, international arrivals must present evidence of vaccination for COVID-19, or present negative results from a professionally administered antigen test (ATK) performed within 72 hours of departure.
Airports of Thailand (AoT) staff at Phuket International Airport yesterday afternoon reported the first arrivals under the new relaxed entry measures in a post that was taken down within hours of being posted. (Link to the original post is here.)
The post, marked as issued by the Special Affairs and Public Relations Division at the Phuket Airport Administration Department, noted that Phuket airport General Manager Monchai Tanode and accompanying staff were on hand to welcome the arrivals yesterday. The post included photos showing the staff warmly welcoming the tourists.
AoT Phuket explained that officials were also on hand to randomly spot-check arrivals for proof of vaccination for COVID-19 or testing negative by ATK within 72 hours of departure, as required under the new entry measures.
“If a passenger is not vaccinated or has not received the vaccine as scheduled, [officers] will perform an ATK examination for passengers. and if found that the said passenger is infected will proceed for the airline to return immediately,” the post said.
A press conference was to be held on the 3rd floor of the domestic terminal building at the airport at 2:50pm, the post noted. However, no report of that presentation has been released.
Instead, AoT Phuket this morning noted an inspection of the airport by Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panapong to confirm the airport’s “readiness” to receive a delegation of representatives from the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) later this month as part of Thailand’s bid for Phuket to host World Specialised Expo in 2028.
At last report by Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew, the BIE delegation is not to arrive in Phuket until July 25.
However, health officials stationed at the airport yesterday through a post online marked the last person to be cleared to enter Phuket under the Thailand Pass requirements.
The tourist, unamed in the post, was marked as the "3,492nd passenger" to be processed by authorities under the Thailand Pass system "before closing the mission of Thailand Pass at 24.00 on June 30, 2022."
The health officials defended the Thailand Pass registration and authroisation process. "Blamed on occasions for not being able to respond to people all over the place, but Thailand Pass has done its best when the country needs some tools to help screen safe travelers for the safety of the people of the country and for the balance of life," the post said.
"Nothing is perfect in a crisis. In an emergency we just to come together and think and work together so we can move forward," the health officials continued.
"Thailand Pass may not create the kind of smile that you like, like the Thai girls volleyball team or Thepbi Phuriphol, but we are happy that Thailand Pass has come to be part of the operation at the international infectious disease control checkpointa and will develop to be useful in the future.
"We will miss you ’Thailand Pass’," the officials said.