Will the Phuket Tourism ‘Sandbox’ save Thailand’s holiday island?

Foreign tourists who carry a COVID-19 vaccine passport will be able to enjoy Phuket’s blue seas and white sands without having to undergo quarantine, provided the Thai government approves the Phuket Tourism Sandbox initiative.

The “sandbox” trial scheme will top the agenda today at the country’s first Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) meeting. To be chaired by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the meeting will bring together key players from both government and the private sector.

What is the Tourism Sandbox?

This latest proposal to revive tourism on the world-famous island is designed to lure back foreigners with an offer to waive quarantine for those fully inoculated against COVID-19 from July 1 onward.

The initiative also promises to guarantee the safety of locals, since one of its key conditions is that 95 per cent of Phuket residents are completely vaccinated first to achieve herd immunity.

How feasible is this initiative?

When COVID-19 hit Thailand last year, authorities proposed the Phuket Model to attract tourists by allowing them to spend time in certain areas of the island without quarantine. However, locals opposed the plan at the time over fears it would increase their risk of getting infected.

A few months on, with the island’s tourism-dependent economy sinking even further from the lack of foreign arrivals, the Phuket Tourism Sandbox has attracted little if any protest from locals.

Residents are also reassured by the plan to get most of them vaccinated before the influx of foreign tourists.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)