This news will not mean much to us in Australia, since our international borders are expected to stay closed possibly till October however, once they are open and you have been vaccinated, you can head off to Phuket for the long-desired vacation, knowing that you will not have to quarantine.
On Friday, the Thai government approved a notion that will see international travellers bypass quarantine requirements on arrival in Phuket, so long as they are vaccinated. As of July 1, vaccinated international travellers will be permitted to visit the vacation destination with no quarantine requirement.
“There are people who are fully vaccinated and ready to travel,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. “But they would only choose destinations that have vaccinated its residents and don’t require quarantine.”
The move will require at least 70% of Phuket’s residents to be vaccinated in order for the plan to reopen to go ahead.
The government plans initially to test the procedure in Phuket before potentially rolling it out to the rest of the country, including other vacation hotspots like Koh Samui. The rest of Thailand is expected to welcome fully vaccinated tourists in October.
The measure will come not a minute too soon for local tourism operators. Tourism is one of the nation’s largest gross domestic product drivers (GDP), and preventative measures against COVID-19 resulted in a huge blow to the industry.
Waiving mandatory quarantine requirements would save an estimated 400,000 hotel workers’ jobs, as well as an additional 400,000 in other branches of tourism around the country. In January, local hotel groups petitioned the Thailand government to waive mandatory quarantine requirements for entering travellers who have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
Thailand is one of the world’s most popular international destinations, with a record of 40 million visitors in 2019. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic caused those numbers to plummet to just 6.8 million international arrivals in 2020. Worse yet, the current predictions for Thai tourism only foresee 10 million international visitors in 2021, further affecting the country’s economic situation.
According to Mr Supasorn, the island of Phuket expects about 100,000 visitors in the third quarter of this year.
But Thailand’s strict measures have paid off in terms of survival rates: Despite the pandemic raging worldwide, Thailand has managed to limit total cases to under 28,600 cases and 92 deaths since the initial outbreak, no small feat for a nation with 70 million residents excluding visitors. The nation’s metrics reflect much of Asia’s success as a continent in defeating the coronavirus.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has also done its best to frame quarantine requirements in a positive light. A prominent banner on the official website proclaims, “Amazing Thailand, Happy Quarantine” and encourages visitors to “change a boring quarantine into a joyous, relaxing time.”
Still, no vacationer fantasizes about visiting Thailand to create arts and crafts in a hotel room for two weeks, especially for travellers coming from halfway around the world and having to take at least 4 weeks holidays.
By Joe Cusmano