The launch of the Phuket Sandbox programme that began July 1 signalled the beginning of Thailand’s tourism revitalisation, and following Phuket’s reopening will be the Samui Plus model, with registration for entering Thailand under the slated reopening scheme planned to open this week and start July 15.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced Phuket’s highly anticipated reopening to tourism is now officially in effect. The Phuket Sandbox programme welcomes fully vaccinated international visitors, with passengers that arrive on flights at the airport not required to quarantine. Among the multiple airlines to fly directly to Phuket are Thai Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and El Al.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a big effect on the Thai economy and the tourism industry, especially in Phuket, a destination dependent on foreign tourists and the superyacht hub of Asia”, said Tanyuta Singhmanee (Jojo), managing director of Asia Pacific Superyachts Phuket, also representing the Thai Yachting Business Association (TYBA), “We have not found any yacht tourists infected so far and we expect that there will be about 100 yachts, bringing 300-500 tourists to Thailand in 2021.”
Much has been done safety-wise in the lead up to the Phuket Sandbox launch, which will also be in effect on Koh Samui. Of particular note is the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration, or SHA certification scheme, which is certified by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
There are currently well over 1,300 hotels, restaurants, activities, attractions, shops, and other venues and businesses across Phuket that are SHA certified, meaning they have the required safety and hygiene measures to control Covid-19. More businesses are also becoming SHA Plus certified, meaning that at least 70% of their employees are fully vaccinated.
The Phuket Sandbox initiative allows free movement on the island for fully vaccinated tourists, although masks are required in most public places. For visitors planning a two week holiday in Phuket, two more Covid tests are needed during their stay – one on day 6 and the second on day 12.
International passengers will be able to fly to Koh Samui via Bangkok from July 15. Tourists traveling from abroad who plan to stay in Samui under the Samui Plus scheme will be able to transit at Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok Airways, providing three daily special flights to Samui for Samui Sealed Route passengers. Discussions are also underway with Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways to fly directly to Samui.
The Samui Plus scheme needs to be approved by a Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration sub-committee before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can begin the registration process for the Certificates of Entry, or COEs, according to the National News Bureau of Thailand. The scheme is up for approval this week.
Under the Samui Plus model, vaccinated tourists are required to remain on Koh Samui for the first seven days of their stay. Tourists will be tested for Covid-19 on their first day on the island, and they must stay at their hotel or resort for the first 3 days. They can travel on a ‘sealed route’ for the rest of the week, most likely with a tour guide to specified destinations and on planned excursions.
After a week on Koh Samui, and a negative Covid-19 test, tourists can travel freely to the neighbouring islands of Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao. After 14 days, and a negative Covid-19 test, tourists can travel throughout Thailand.
Asia Pacific Superyachts has been facilitating boat visits during the pandemic and can arrange for all needs and documents to be handled for arrival into through date of departure in Thailand. APS can arrange for Covid-approved marina berth in Phuket, anchorage support in Samui, all superyacht services & needs, provisioning and custom itinerary for island cruising.