Phuket "Sandbox" scheme

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Gaybutton
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Phuket "Sandbox" scheme

Post by Gaybutton »

I hope the powers-that-be have finally come up with a scheme that will work. Part of the article says, "The Tourism Authority of Thailand has predicted about 129,000 foreign arrivals and that 500,000 Thais will also visit Phuket in the three months from July to September."

I don't know how they come up with those numbers, but I hope they're right. Whether those kinds of tourist numbers go to Phuket or not, the question is will this be enough, soon enough, to save Phuket's tourism industry and be a good omen for the rest of Thailand's tourism industry.

I hope the powers-that-be have also done whatever it takes to deal with the crooked taxi and baht bus drivers in Phuket who were notorious for charging rip-off prices. Remember all that? I hope that is now all that is necessary to do - remember it.

See also: Barry Kenyon's article - https://www.gaybuttonthai.com/viewtopic ... 78#p104478
_______________________________

Moment of truth for Phuket Sandbox

PM to attend tourist reopening next week

26 Jun 2021

Authorities reaffirmed their readiness to reopen Phuket to vaccinated foreign tourists on July 1, as Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow and three other cabinet ministers arrived for an inspection.

The deputy prime minister was briefed on details of the tourist sandbox by Phuket governor Narong Woonciew during Friday's meeting.

He was accompanied by Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakhomnusorn and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to visit the island on Thursday's reopening day.

The Phuket governor said the sandbox scheme was a crucial policy and he was thrilled the government had chosen the island as the pilot for the scheme.

Provincial authorities were determined to reopen the island on July 1, even though it had been an uphill struggle, as the island's economy must be revived, but with effective measures in place to control the spread of Covid-19, the governor said.

Over past months, everyone had pulled together to put in place a system that would stem the spread of the virus and prevent it being brought in from outside.

Those entering the island from other provinces must have received two doses of the Sinovac vaccine or one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine or had an RT-PCR negative test 168 hours before their arrival. Everyone else must still undergo a 14-day quarantine on arrival, Mr Narong said during the meeting.

Under the sandbox plan, the province needs to vaccinate at least 466,587 people, or 70% of the provincial population, to build up herd immunity, Mr Narong said.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has predicted about 129,000 foreign arrivals and that 500,000 Thais will also visit Phuket in the three months from July to September, the governor said.

Mr Supattanapong said Phuket was a test model to bring in tourists, both domestically and from abroad, although visitors would notice some changes.

Mr Varawut said many natural attractions in Phuket and elsewhere in the South were eager to welcome back tourists, whose numbers had shrunk since the epidemic began.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said the sandbox scheme represented hope for businesses on the island.

Reopening the province was expected to provide 20,000 jobs. If all went well, another 30,000-40,000 would be employed later and the economy would move ahead, he said.

On June 22, the cabinet approved the Phuket Sandbox scheme for fully vaccinated tourists from selected low- to medium-risk countries, to be followed by a trio of destinations in the Gulf of Thailand on July 15 -- Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/ge ... et-sandbox

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Re: Phuket "Sandbox" scheme

Post by Jun »

1 Have they declared what percentage of the population have been vaccinated ? (v 70% target)

2 The comment that domestic visitors to Phuket need one dose of AZN or two doses of Sinovac is interesting

3 As for fixing the crooked baht bus drivers, don't count on it. I expect those in power are incentivised to not fix it by tea money. [Chiang Mai is another place with high charges. Almost everywhere else I go in Thailand, bus & baht bus fares are in the 8~12 baht range. In Chiang Mai, both are 30 baht per ride. Not a problem for me, but it must be bad for locals who live there permanently on Thai wages.]

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Re: Phuket "Sandbox" scheme

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Visitors to Phuket using water transport face strict Covid screening

June 27, 2021

The Marine Department launched measures in Phuket on Sunday to screen travellers arriving and departing by water transport in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The move came after the Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)'s proposal to reopen Phuket on July 1 and three islands in Surat Thani – Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao – on July 15.

The measures are as follows:

▪︎ Three piers -- Ao Chalong, Rassada and Ao Po -- will be checkpoints for screening travellers' arrivals and departures via water transport.

▪︎ Foreign travellers can leave Phuket by yacht at five yacht piers -- Yacht Haven Marina, Ao Po Grand Marina, Phuket, Royal Phuket Marina and Marina Ao Chalong -- but they must inform the officials at least six hours before departure.

▪︎ Foreign travellers must comply with Covid-19 preventive measures, use tracking application on smartphone and vessel (if any) and contact officials before arrival and departure.

▪︎ Thai nationals and foreign expats (except children aged below six years) who wish to enter Phuket must have received two jabs of Covid-19 vaccines or an AstraZeneca jab at least 15 days before travel, or must have recovered from Covid-19 at least 90 days before travel, or test negative not more than seven days before departure. Also, they must use a tracking application.

▪︎ Transport operators and their officials must disinfect vessels regularly, provide hand-sanitising gels on the vessel, wear a face mask, arrange seats in line with social distancing principles and limit the number of passengers. If using air-conditioned vessels, they must improve the air ventilation system as well.

▪︎ Pier operators must disinfect piers regularly, provide hand-sanitising gels, wear a face mask, arrange seats in line with social distancing principles and screen officials and passengers' symptoms.

Also, they must report information related to passengers' arrivals and departures to related government agencies every day.

To ensure safety and gain confidence among travellers, officials have been instructed to perform duties stricter than usual, said Deputy Transport Minister Athirat Rattanaset.

https://www.nationthailand.com/in-focus/40002522

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Re: Phuket "Sandbox" scheme

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Sorry Thai tourism industry, but for me all these rules and restrictions would mean thanks, but no thanks.

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___________________________________________

Details of entry to Thai Sandbox finally published

By Barry Kenyon

June 28, 2021

The Thai embassy in London is amongst the first diplomatic posts to describe what wannabe foreign entrants must do to enjoy the Phuket Sandbox from July 1. The details also give us some idea of the amendments likely to be made if the Pattaya Sandbox is actually launched on October 1.

Registration to come to Thailand must be via a Thai embassy to obtain the all-important certificate of entry. The requirements include proof of Covid-19 vaccination with the second dose at least a fortnight before departure. There is also a need for a Covid-19 RT-PCR test 72 hours before departure.

Covid health insurance of at least US$100,000, confirmed air ticket directly to Phuket (no transit stop in Bangkok allowed) and confirmation of hotel booking at a registered SHA+ hotel or hotels are all needed. The proposed Pattaya Sandbox will likely specify arrival at Bangkok or U-tapao airports with ongoing travel to Pattaya by “sealed” transport.

Entrants must spend at least two weeks in Phuket before being allowed to travel elsewhere in Thailand. The one exception concerns those whose air tickets shows they plan to stay only for a few days in Phuket before proceeding to the airport for their international flight. Travellers under 18, who are not vaccinated, are allowed to enter via the Sandbox only if they are travelling with their full-vaccinated parents.

One problem for the Pattaya Sandbox will be how to restrict foreigners from escaping from Pattaya during the first two weeks of restriction as there are so many exit routes. There is likely to be a special requirement for tracking apps and even wrist bracelets and facial recognition procedures. The Phuket Sandbox published details do not mention any tracing procedures.

Applicants will need to show they have booked for at least two weeks at a Covid-registered hotel at their destination. Thus it is not possible for returning expats who have a home in Thailand to use the Sandbox route unless they are prepared to pay for two weeks’ accommodation in a hotel they don’t actually need.

There is no special Sandbox visa. Applicants will apply at their local embassy for a tourist or non-immigrant visa or take advantage of the 30 days on arrival exemption. This means that Sandbox arrivals will be able to apply for extensions or new visas in the customary way. The Sandbox initiative has nothing to do with the Special Tourist Visa (STV) which has now been withdrawn in any case.

There is no requirement for any current visa awarded by an embassy to need general medical insurance (non-Covid) with the exception of “retirement” categories. However, the whole matter is currently the subject of an immigration bureau working party which is not expected to report for several months.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... hed-361421

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Re: Phuket "Sandbox" scheme

Post by Gaybutton »

The Phuket "Sandbox" scheme began July 1. This post is being submitted July 2, so it is much too soon to know whether it will succeed.

According to Adam Judd, most of the people traveling to Phuket are not tourists. If he is correct, an influx of people might not last very long.

If you wish to read his article, see: https://thepattayanews.com/2021/07/02/o ... t-sandbox/

What do YOU think? Do you think the scheme will succeed or fail? Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Judd?

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Re: Phuket "Sandbox" scheme

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Gaybutton wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 5:57 pm
Do you think the scheme will succeed or fail? Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Judd?
these are two very different questions

to judge the success or failure of a project you need a clear understanding of the goals of the project and the criteria for how the achievement of these goals can be assessed - a coherent and consistent picture of this this has been significantly lacking in any official announcements from the various authorities involved from the first hints about this project until the final announcement in the Royal Gazette this week - and significantly Mr Judd does not provide any real help in this regard

Mr Judd may well decry the "media blitz" and the confusion it has caused but he, and the Pattaya News, have been intimately involved in regurgitating the official announcements, and given the internal inconsistencies and unjustified speculation and assumptions in this current article, and in the links provided to previous articles, one wonders why it is worth the effort of even making a decision about agreeing or disagreeing with him!
I’m nervous now when people cough near me, I would be much more comfortable if they would far cough.

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Re: Phuket "Sandbox" scheme

Post by Jun »

Gaybutton wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 5:57 pm
What do YOU think? Do you think the scheme will succeed or fail?
Right now I can't see many people rushing in. After all, it's summer in many of our home countries and Thailand doesn't have the current covid outbreak under control, which always leaves the risk of increasing restrictions.

In a few months time, winter will be on the way and hopefully covid infections will be on a downtrend, with restrictions decreasing. So at that time, I think it would attract more long term winter tourists and possibly many who are content with 1~2 weeks on Phuket island.

So for now, it's going to be a quiet start.

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Re: Phuket "Sandbox" scheme

Post by Gaybutton »

Jun wrote:
Sat Jul 03, 2021 12:02 am
Right now I can't see many people rushing in.
Neither can I. Whatever influx is happening now, I believe it will be short lived and will be a drop in the bucket compared to what Phuket needs to pull itself out of this. But it is a start.

Here is the latest:
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Foreign tourists OK with Phuket sandbox

Visitors finally roam free on resort island

3 Jul 2021

The first group of foreign tourists arriving in Phuket under the sandbox tourism programme was satisfied with their travel experience after arriving on the island, according to the local tourism office.

Nanthasiri Ronsiri, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Phuket office, said Israeli tourists who arrived on Thursday during the first day of reopening visited the island's Old Town and were impressed by the locals and the local food.

Ms Nanthasiri said the group, comprised of individual tourists, tour groups and members of the press from Israel, would spend a week in Phuket and visit various islands and local communities.

Somyot Pathan, a community leader in Phuket's Old Town, said the tourists brought joy to local residents, as he praised the tourists for fully complying with social-distancing measures.

Mr Somyot said the next group to visit the Old Town is tourists from Dubai who are scheduled to visit this coming Thursday.

According to Ms Nanthasiri, Phuket expects to welcome 2,435 tourists on Saturday.

A total of 326 passengers on four flights from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Singapore landed on Thursday, the first day of the reopening. About 500 were expected to arrive on Friday.

The Phuket Sandbox programme is part of the government's plan to reopen the kingdom to foreign tourists without the need for quarantine upon arrival.

Under the scheme, vaccinated foreign visitors are required to stay in Phuket for 14 days before travelling to other provinces.

Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are expected to welcome foreign tourists without the quarantine requirement on July 15.

Tourists swam in hotel pools and walked along Phuket's postcard-perfect beaches after receiving a Covid-19 test result within 24 hours of arrival.

"This is the perfect place to just relax and clean our minds, our heads, after a long time," said Sigal Baram, lying by the pool, who was visiting from Israel with her husband and friends. The group was among the first to arrive in the country.

The 'Phuket Sandbox' initiative allows free movement on the island for fully vaccinated tourists, with no quarantine required, although masks are required in most public places.

While five-star hotels and restaurants welcomed back tourists, local street vendors said they were not benefiting from the plan, because tourists frequent mostly large hotels.

"There is no way street vendors will get the money from overseas tourists... it will go to hotels and restaurants instead," said Yupin Papor, a massage therapist who lost her job during the pandemic and became a street vendor selling food on the beach.

Thailand lost about 160 billion bahtin tourism revenue last year, when foreign arrivals plunged 83%.

Phuket was hit particularly hard by job losses and business closures.

"I see the shops closed. It's a big difference to me from before," said Omar Alraeesi from United Arab Emirates, who comes to Phuket every year.

Millions of people visited Phuket every year before the pandemic and the government and tourism industry hope the reopening will help save its battered economy.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/21 ... et-sandbox

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
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Re: Phuket "Sandbox" scheme

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That didn't take very long, did it? That's what worries me about these schemes to open up tourism way too soon to be truly safe, especially since we expats can't get vaccinated any time soon. All it takes is one person to spread Covid all over the place. I hope that didn't happen in Phuket. How would you like to have been on the same plane he traveled on?
_____________________________________________

First Covid-infected tourist found in Phuket Sandbox

By: Achadthaya Chuenniran

7 July 2021

A man from the United Arab Emirates who arrived in this southern island province in a tour group on Tuesday was found to be infected with Covid-19, governor Narong Woonciew said on Wednesday.

He is the first tourist found with the virus since the province was reopened on July 1 under the Phuket Sandbox scheme, he said.

The provincial health office reported that a sample swab was taken from the tourist on his arrival at Phuket international airport on Tuesday, before he went to his hotel.

Between 10pm-11pm, the test result came out positive.

Health officials immediately informed the manager of the hotel and took the tourist to a hospital for treatment.

Other tourists in the same group had been placed in 14-day quarantine at a hotel provided by the province for observation and Covid-19 testing.

From July 1-7 a total of 2,113 had arrived in Phuket under the Sandbox programme, the governor said.

Phuket added two new local infections on Tuesday, bringing total cases there to 755 during the third virus surge, according to the provincial public health office. It said 70% of the population has now received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

Provincial health chief Chaloempong Sukhonthaphol said outstanding groups, including students aged 18 or more, will start getting their first doses this month. Other targets were studends and workers who commute from Phangnga.

Phuket authorities have banned entry of people from other provinces unless they have received two doses, or one shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine at least 14 days earlier.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/ge ... et-sandbox

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Re: Phuket "Sandbox" scheme

Post by Gaybutton »

Yep - Working great, isn't it?
_________________________________________

Seventh foreign tourist found infected in Phuket

14 Jul 2021

PHUKET: Another tourist who arrived under the Sandbox programme was found infected with Covid-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total to seven, provincial public health chief Kusak Kukiatikoon said on Wednesday.

Dr Kusak said the seventh case is a woman from South Africa, the friend of a South African man earlier found to be infected with the virus.

The seven infections to date are: a man from the United Arab Emirates, three female tourists from Myanmar, a man and a woman from South Africa, and a man from Switzerland.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/ge ... -in-phuket

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