Phuket is opening up

    The Thai government has agreed to allow foreigners inoculated against the coronavirus to travel to Phuket without undergoing quarantine from 1st of July. As of 1st of April (and no, this is not an April fool’s joke), foreign tourists who have been vaccinated need to undergo only seven days of quarantine.

    The arrival numbers to Thailand has plummeted the past year. Thailand and the Philippines are the two countries most dependent on tourism in Asia. The government and the private sector is racing to secure vaccines for its population and reopen fully before the next high season.

    Welcoming tourists is a key for reviving the Thai economy, as tourism accounts for roughly 20% of the kingdom’s gross domestic product. The economy recorded a 6.1% contraction in 2020 because service exports — which include spending by nonresidents such as tourists – plunged 60% compared to 2019.

    “If we can inoculate 50 percent to 60 percent of the population we can open the country safely and move the economy and tourism forward,” senior health official Kiattiphum Wongraijit said to Reuters.

    The plan is to vaccinate 70 percent of the residents in Phuket by July. The effort is kicking off in April. 50,000 vaccine doses have arrived in Phuket and registration has started.

    From April, the hotel quarantine period will be halved to seven days for fully vaccinated visitors to Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai, Phang Nga and Krabi, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn told a news conference.

    By the fourth quarter, the quarantine waiver is expected to be implemented in five holiday destinations, he said.

    The central bank expects to see 3 million foreign tourists this year, compared to nearly 40 million in 2019 before the virus struck.

    The Bank of Thailand has lowered the 2021 growth projection for the Thai economy from 3.2% to 3.0%, due to mild business lockdowns to counter the resurgence.

    Sources: Reuters, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT),