Mr Phiphat announced the news at a meeting of leading tourism representatives from Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi at the Angsana Laguna Phuket resort in Cherng Talay yesterday (Mar 10).
Also present at the meeting for the announcement was Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn, and Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew.
Minister Phiphat explained that the ‘Sandbox Model’ is similar to ‘travel bubbles’, which allow people from two countries to travel to each other.
Launching the model must depend on the number of vaccinated people and in each area, Mr Phiphat said.
It is possible to start the model with China, he added.
“The Ministry [of Tourism and Sports] expects to start the sandbox model in July by having Phuket as pilot province. About 70% of people in Phuket must be vaccinated, which means about 900,000 doses of vaccine are needed for 450,000 people,” he said.
“Before starting the model in other two Andaman coastal provinces – Krabi and Phang Nga – we have discussed with the Ministry of Public Health about the request for 3 million doses of vaccine especially for people in the three provinces, in order to be ready before fully opening for foreign tourists on Oct 1 as timeline announced by the government,” Mr Phiphat explained.
“The three provinces were chosen as [pre-COVID] they generated up to B600 billion from tourism, which in 2019 was about one-fifth the national total revenue from tourism. Of the B600bn, B470bn came from Phuket, B100bn came from Krabi and B45bn came from Phang Nga,” he said.
Minister Phiphat further explained that the Ministry of Tourism and Sports will present to the CCSA ways to relax the opening of the country in various forms.
“The government is preparing to reduce the number of quarantine days,” he said.
Tourists who have been fully vaccinated will be swab tested first and then enter quarantine in an ‘Area Local Quarantine’ hotel for seven days, he said.
“At this stage, the Ministry of Public Health only allows tourists to remain in their rooms, but we will propose to the CCSA to allow tourists to go out of their rooms from Day 1 of their quarantine. Then after a second swab test, if they are not infected, they can exit quarantine entirely after seven days,” Mr Phiphat explained.
“Tourists who have not been vaccinated will have to be swab tested and enter quarantine for 10 days. If they are found not infected after the second swab test, they can go out,” he added.
Mr Phiphat said that formal confirmation of the relaxation of quarantine measures to be made by the end of this month.
“The D-day is April 1, and the government will make a ‘timeline announcement’ to clarify how the government will relax the opening of the country with step-down reductions every two months,” he said.
In addition to piloting the ‘sandbox model’ in Phuket, the ‘villa quarantine’, or ‘area quarantine’, model will also be trialled in seven provinces – Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani (including Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao), Chiang Mai, Chonburi (including Pattaya and Jomtien), Bangkok and Phang Nga (including Kao Lak), Mr Phiphat said.
“If this plan is approved by the CCSA on Mar 19, I will inform Phuket people again. Last year, I talked about the Phuket Model too early, so that they [the CCSA] did not give it a good response,” he said.