Thailand's Resort Island Reopens to Tourists in October

Phuket is hoping to revive their tourism economy.

Phuket
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/Day2505

(SPOT.ph) Phuket, an archipelago off the coast of southern Thailand, is well known for its white-sand beaches, luxurious resorts, and island-hopping activities. The province is highly dependent on tourism; and the global pandemic that started in early 2020 heavily affected their means of livelihood. In an effort to save the economy, Phuket is planning to reopen on October 1 to tourists who have received the vaccine against COVID-19.

In 2019, about 10.5 million of 40 million tourists in Thailand specifically visited Phuket. In 2020, the tourist count dropped to 2.1 million arrivals. Foreign tourism revenue was only at 87.5 million baht, which is 78% of the previous year.

Phuket Island

phuket
Promthep Cape, which is on the southmost point of Phuket, is a popular tourist destination for its picturesque view of Andaman Sea. 
PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz
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Wat Chalong is the largest Buddhist temple in Phuket.
PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz
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Phuket's local tourism stakeholders, including hotels, resorts, and tourist attractions, agreed to pool together resources to procure vaccines and inoculate at least 70% of the island's population of 400,000. They're planning to start the vaccination even before the nationwide government implements the public immunization program in June. Should the island's private vaccination push through, Phuket plans to reopen their borders by October 1. Phuket Tourism Association President Bhummikitti Ruktaengam also said that foreign tourists who have been vaccinated don't have to undergo quarantine.

"They have immunity, we will have immunity," he said. "We talk to each other through masks. The logic works."

Thailand in October 2020 started reopening their borders to long-term travelers with the special tourist visa, which allows international travelers from low-risk places to stay in the country for 90 days and can be extended to 270 days. This scheme was eased in December 2020, which now allows entry for tourists from any country. Visa exemptions have also been reactivated for eligible passport holders of 56 countries, which includes the Philippines, for stays between 30 and 90 days.

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