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Tourism figures praise keeping Phuket Sandbox open

Tourism figures praise keeping Phuket Sandbox open

PHUKET: Phuket Tourist Association President Bhummikitti Raktaengam has led a consortium of 16 agencies to say thank you to the government for keeping the Phuket Sandbox scheme open following the suspension of all Test & Go entry to the country.

By The Phuket News

Thursday 23 December 2021, 01:05PM

Photo: PR Phuket

Photo: PR Phuket

Present to receive the formal thanks at the new Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday (Dec 22) was Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Pananpong.

Phuket remains the only province where tourists may enter the country under the Sandbox scheme following the immediate suspension of the Test & Go entry scheme on Tuesday.

The order to suspend Test & Go arrivals came 24 hours after Thailand marked its first local transmission, in Bangkok, of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which has brought on severe prevention measures and travel bans across Europe.

“On behalf of the private sector of Phuket, I would like to thank the Prime Minister and all relevant Cabinet members who have decided to trust Phuket to accept tourists in the form of the Phuket Sandbox,” Mr Bhummikitti said.

“There are many related official agencies that support Phuket Province, especially in Phuket led by the Governor of Phuket and all Deputy Governors of Phuket, and with special thanks to Airports of Thailand and especially the Director of Phuket Airport for supporting the mission that we have gained confidence in this time,” he added.


The central government has confirmed that 110,000 visitors who had already been approved entry to Thailand, and issued a QR code via the Thailand Pass application system, before the announcement on Tuesday will be allowed to enter Thailand on the approved date.

However, they will now be required to undergo a second RT-PCR test on Day 5 of their stay ‒ in addition to their first RT-PCR test on landing ‒ to confirm they are not infected. The government has announced that the state will pay the costs of the second test.

These visitors must stay in their hotel rooms until the results of their first test confirm they are not infected. Once the first test results confirm they are not infected, they may leave their hotel rooms. They must also return to their hotel each night until they have passed their second test. 

A further 90,000 visitors who had applied but had not yet been approved entry as of Tuesday will be allowed to enter the country, Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Tuesday.

The decision to suspend the Test & Go entry scheme will be reviewed on Jan 4.


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In addition to suspending all Test & Go entry to the country, the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Tuesday also suspended all Sandbox entry schemes ‒ except the Phuket Sandbox model.

Under the Phuket Sandbox scheme visitors may land on the island and will be tested for COVID-19 on landing. If they test negative, they are free to go anywhere on the island. They will receive a second RT-PCR  test on Day 5-6.

They must stay on the island for seven days, after which ‒ if they test negative for the virus ‒ visitors may travel freely within the country, pending local restrictions in each province. During the seven days, Phuket Sandbox arrivals must stay at their designated pre-booked hotel. They are not allowed to stay overnight in any other places.

Any arrivals who test positive for COVID-1 will be referred to a healthcare facility for appropriate medical treatment, for which the expenses must be covered by the required insurance, or national healthcare coverage for Thais and eligible foreign expatriates, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) notes in its description of the Sandbox scheme.


Mr Bhummikitti urged people to remain calm, and to be patient in waiting for the CCSA to review the situation on Jan 4.

To date, Phuket has not marked a local transmission of the Omicron variant, and Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Weerasak Lorthongkham yesterday confirmed that all recent local cases of infection have resulted in mild symptoms only.

“We must maintain confidence [in handling the situation], for citizens and tourists, no matter which variant of COVID-19. Not just Omicron, there may be others. I believe that with the cooperation of all of us we will be able to coexist with the COVID-19 pandemic and overcome this crisis,” he said.

“During these two weeks Phuket will do our best to reassure the country and tourists around the world that Thailand will continue [to remain open]... and most importantly, thanks to the government, especially the departments of the Ministry of Public Health, including Vachira Phuket Hospital and the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office, which together are an important force that will allow Phuket to move forward,” he said.

Mr Bhummikitti noted that the policy shift will no doubt affect tourist arrivals, but said it was too early to tell how much of an effect it will have.

“The suspension of the Test & Go scheme will have an inevitable impact. But it is necessary to keep the economy going,” Mr Bhummikitti told the Bangkok Post.

Phuket mainly has tourists from Russia and Kazakhstan at present and these countries can still enter via the Phuket Sandbox despite the change in other entry systems, he said.

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maverick | 24 December 2021 - 16:13:57

Kurt @ the hotel stay is to ensure they can find you in the event of a positive test not much trust here fair enough I guess when people just wander off without following protocol

christysweet | 24 December 2021 - 13:40:20

 BS about  Swine Flu/ H1N1 influenza  turning into the 'common cold'  in the late 1800's.  Two completely  different and unrelated viral particles. 

CaptainJack69 | 24 December 2021 - 11:43:30

Yeah. Just when traveler confidence was just beginning to recover and we were beginning to see some guests in just a very few places the government dramatically changes the rules literally overnight. So what if people are still 'allowed' to come here? Who's going to dare to risk buying a ticket when they could be barred entry at the drop of a hat? Only an idiot would think this is good...

Kurt | 24 December 2021 - 10:18:37

If one thing is for sure by now, it is that we can say that herd immunity doesn't exist, as 'we' jump from variant to variant. The fact that we here now already in the 4th vaccination happening ( 2nd booster) says it all.

Kurt | 24 December 2021 - 09:44:26

Thai quarantine is a farce when it only means obligated sleeping in a SHA hotel. That is no quarantine procedure, that is by Government directed SHA hotel business to put it mildly. How much admin/license fees SHA hotels have to pay to officialdom? 

Kurt | 24 December 2021 - 09:28:46

@maverick, Not the hotel accomodation is here the issue. The issue is the idiote fact that quarantine not count during day time, but only at night time. What kinf of quarantine is that? As if Covid-19 variants only swerf around during nights.

maverick | 24 December 2021 - 07:11:16

Kurt@ where would tourists stay if not in a hotel majority of them need accommodation anyway so it is hardly an issue except for those who may have homes or planned Airbnb many of the residents are already back ever the cynic - confused thinking worldwide hardly restricted to Thailand 

maverick | 24 December 2021 - 07:08:26

Omicron is the end of the current Covid virus as everyone gets it and it further weakens with herd immunity just like the Russian virus at the end of 19th century which is now common cold 

christysweet | 23 December 2021 - 21:59:31

Omicrom is a corona particle, as it the 'common cold' which it may well be morphing into- hopefully. It is def not type B influenza.  

Kurt | 23 December 2021 - 17:15:22

Praise?  While it is now known that Omicron is just a kind of flu?  Pathetic how thai officialdom is panicking about Omicron. Same time tourists in quarantine can move out of quarantine care in day time, but must sleep in quarantine. More contradictive idiotism is not possible.  Oh, this is just obilgated thai government hotel scam feeding. That explains.


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