The reopening plan to add destinations as links to Phuket Sandbox have been approved in principle by the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) since July 22, but had to gain formal approval from both a CCSA subcommittee on Aug 5 and a committee under the Communicable Diseases Act on Aug 13, respectively.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said from Aug 16 tourists can join the programme, which will help cut the mandatory stay in Phuket from 14 days to just 7 days before then traveling on to other designated destinations.
However, participants have to apply for a Certificate of Entry (COE) for each route before departing for Thailand. The Foreign Ministry will open the system for registration within this week.
According to the 7+7 Phuket extension plan, the areas to included are Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao in Surat Thani; Khao Lak, Kho Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi in Phang Nga; Koh Phi Phi, Railay Beach and Koh Ngai in Krabi.
After testing the country’s reopening programme with the Phuket Sandbox scheme, Phuket has recorded 394,877 room nights in 394 hotels with 35,480 guests.
Mr Yuthasak said the CCSA on Monday also approved every Sandbox area to receive tourists who have been vaccinated with Sputnik V which could help clear an obstacle for Russian tourists.
However, the weakness of the scheme is the mandatory stay, forcing tourists to roam the island for two weeks before being allowed to travel to other provinces.
The virus situation which prompted lockdown has complicated the situation as public transport serving cross-provincial travels in the dark red zone are banned, including flights from Phuket to Samui which were suspended. Therefore, the 7+7 extension plan which mainly connects tourists via boat is seen as an alternative for tourists who will be able to enjoy more travel options.
Charintip Tiyaphorn, president of the Tourism Council of Krabi, said after the plan was officially approved, the booking trend is anticipated to improve from October as the high season will roll out from then.