What is Phuket Sandbox?
Phuket Sandbox is an initiative by Thailand government to fully reopen tourism in Thailand to all fully vaccinated foreign tourists, without having to undergo any quarantine period or isolation.
From 01 July 2021 onwards, Phuket will open to fully vaccinated international travelers without the need to quarantine. Tourists entering Thailand through the Sandbox Program must stay in Phuket for at least 7 days. After 7 days, they can freely travel to any parts of Thailand without restrictions.
It is expected that 129,000 international tourists will land on Phuket in the first three months after Phuket reopens. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is also planning to cooperate with airlines to provide 100,000 subsidized domestic one-way tickets.
The standard operating procedures for managing the entry of foreign tourists, including detailed plans for epidemic detection and “closed routes” guidelines, will be submitted to the Center for Thailand Economic Situation Administration this month. Once this plan is approved, it will be published in the Royal Gazette and tour operators can activate their travel packages and marketing campaigns.
Stages of reopening
Stage 1: Reduced Quarantine Period
- 01 April to 30 June
- Vaccinated tourists will need to undergo a quarantine period of 7 days.
- Unvaccinated tourists will need to undergo a qurantine period of 10 days.
Stage 2: Phuket Sandbox
- 01 July to 30 September
- No quarantine for vaccinated tourists.
- After staying in Phuket for at least 7 days, tourists will get to travel to other parts of Thailand without restictions.
Stage 3: Chiang Mai, Krabi, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Phangnga
- 01 October to 31 December
- The Phuket Sandbox will be extended to five more cities, including Chiang Mai, Krabi, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Phangnga.
Stage 4: Bangkok and the rest of Thailand
- From 01 January 2022
- It is widely speculated and unofficial at the moment that fully vaccinated tourists will be able to enter Bangkok and any parts of Thailand freely without restrictions.
What prompts the reopening?
Tourism is a key industry in Thailand’s economy. Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangkok was the most visited city in the world.
As the world is recovering from the pandemic and slowly relaxing the border controls and outbound travels, the Thai government is keen to attract more tourists to revive its economy.
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, predicts that the implementation of the Phuket Sandbox in Phuket will attract 30,000 to 40,000 international tourists every month. It is estimated that each tourist will spend between 150,000 to 200,000 baht as they will need to stay at least 7 days in Phuket. This is a significant increase from the 50,000 baht per tourist spent on travel in Phuket before the pandemic.
Any serious new outbreak of COVID-19 may damper or delay any of the 4 stages of reopening.
Thailand is currently battling a new outbreak with daily cases in the thousands. It is unknown at this moment whether there will be any delay to the reopening plan.
However, the outbreak certainly has not affected Thailand’s popularity as a tourist destination. Many travel agencies are in the process of clearing entry regulations for bringing tourists back to Thailand despite the uncertainties.