Thailand to reopen Phuket to vaccinated tourists from July

A deserted beach in Phuket on December 20.

Photographer: Taylor Weidman / Bloomberg

Thailand will remove quarantine requirements for vaccinated foreign visitors arriving on the resort island of Phuket from July 1, the first key reopening for the tourism-dependent nation.

A panel chaired Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha on Friday approved a proposal from Phuket’s private sector and business groups to vaccinate at least 70% of the island’s residents to prepare for the reopening of vaccinated tourists, according to the Tourism Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

The government plans to test the reopening plan in Phuket before expanding to other key tourist spots, including Koh Samui, to help restart the tourism industry hit by a year without its millions of tourists, who contributed a fifth of the economy. before the pandemic.

Trust in tourism

Thailand has become more dependent on foreign visitors in the last decade

Sources: Ministry of Tourism and Sports, National Council for Economic and Social Development.

Thailand backs vaccine passport ahead of wider reopening

The approval means that Phuket will reopen three months earlier than the rest of the country, which is expected to receive fully vaccinated visitors. only in october. Phuket residents will also have priority in launching the vaccine, with more than 930,000 doses expected to be administered before the reopening, said Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the island’s tourism association separately earlier this week.

Shares of Thai hotel operators rose on Friday with the SET tourism and leisure index rising 2.4%, outpacing the 0.2% gain of the benchmark SET index. Minor International Pcl, the largest hotel operator in the country, rose 3.2%, Asset World Corp. Pcl gained 3%, Central Plaza Hotel Pcl and Erawan Group Pcl advanced more than 4% each.

An early reopening could add more than 30 billion baht ($ 963 million) to the economy, but its success depends on international vaccine passport agreements and negotiations with other countries to allow free travel, Bhummikitti said.

A deserted Phuket shows the challenge of reviving tourism in the Covid era

Beach chairs stacked on Patong Beach in Patong, Phuket.

Ready to travel

“There are people who are fully vaccinated and ready to travel. But they would only choose destinations that have vaccinated their residents and do not require quarantine, “said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Thailand Tourism Authority, who expects at least 100,000 visitors to Phuket in the third quarter.

Despite an outbreak of infections earlier this year, Thailand has largely contained the pandemic, with just 92 deaths and 28,577 cases over the course of the pandemic. That has prompted the government to shorten the quarantine for visitors to 10 days from two weeks from April 1, with a plan to further reduce it to one week for those with proof of vaccination traveling to Phuket, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai and three other destinations.

The government will continue gradually relax control measures as he sees the health of the economy and people as equally important, Prayuth said Thursday.

Central bank of thailand it cut its growth forecast for this year to 3% and lowered its estimate of tourist arrivals to 3 million from the December estimate of 5.5 million. The pandemic has devastated the nation’s tourism industry, which generated more than $ 60 billion in revenue from approximately 40 million foreign visitors in 2019.

– With the help of Suttinee Yuvejwattana and Anuchit Nguyen

(Updates with the market reaction in the fifth paragraph.)


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