The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has confirmed a further extension to its reopening plans with the Phuket Sandbox 7+7 program.
The new system will provide fully vaccinated international travellers with even more options to visit multiple Thai destinations bringing back the opportunity to enjoy multicentre, island-hopping itineraries, without the need to quarantine.
Following the initial launch of the Phuket Sandbox from 1st July and Samui Plus from 15th July, the Phuket Sandbox 7+7, continues to lead the way to the safe reopening of more destinations across the country.
In a statement, TAT advised “since July Phuket has welcomed over 24,000 (fully vaccinated) international arrivals with just 70 testing positive for COVID-19.
“The Sandbox concept has proved to be a controlled and safe return to restarting tourism and has generated over 100 million Thai Baht for the local economy.
“There is a long way to go but with our peak winter sun season ahead (November – March) and the opening of more of Thailand’s popular beaches and islands this month, travellers can look forward to romantic getaways and fun family breaks without quarantine restrictions.”
The Phuket Sandbox 7+7 program allows eligible, fully vaccinated international travellers to reduce the previous 14-night mandatory stay in Phuket to just seven after which another seven nights can be spent in either Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai or Railay), Phang-Nga (Khao Lak or Ko Yao) or Surat Thani (Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan or Ko Tao).
The existing entry measures in place for the Phuket Sandbox programme remain unchanged for the 7+7 extension.
Travellers wishing to travel onwards from Phuket after seven nights must obtain a transfer form issued by their hotel in Phuket proving their seven-night stay, plus they must show negative results from their two Covid-19 tests (conducted on day zero and day six or seven in Phuket).
July passengers number up but still below pre-pandemic levels
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), both international and domestic travel demand increased significantly in July 2021 when compared to June, but demand remained far below pre-pandemic levels as a result of extensive government-imposed travel restrictions continue to stall international market recovery.
Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, all comparisons are to July 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern, unless otherwise noted.
Total demand for air travel in July 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was down 53.1% compared to July 2019. This is a significant improvement from June when demand was 60% below June 2019 levels.
International passenger demand in July was 73.6% below July 2019, bettering the 80.9% decline recorded in June 2021 versus two years ago. All regions showed improvement and North American airlines posted the smallest decline in international RPKs (July traffic data from Africa was not available).
Total domestic demand was down 15.6% versus pre-crisis levels (July 2019), compared to the 22.1% decline recorded in June over June 2019. Russia posted the best result for another month, with RPKs up 28.9% vs. July 2019.
Images: Phuket's Bangtao Beach (top) and airport check-in (below, credit: Joe Cusmano).
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