Reopening of Thai Phuket to foreign tourists likely to be delayed

Kata, Kata Noi and Karon beaches attract millions of visitors annually to Phuket. Photo: Bangkok Post. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BANGKOK, Sep 8, 2020, Xinhua. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) on Monday told reporters that the launch of the so-called “Phuket model” scheduled for next month to welcome back foreign visitors, has a high chance of being pushed back, ECNS reported.

The remark came after Thailand witnessed the first COVID-19 case after making the 100-day record of free local transmission.

“We simply cannot afford a second wave of infections,” said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn,” we have come this far in our efforts to stem the virus from spreading.”

“Phuket is still the most favored destination to foreign tourists, and we want to take this opportunity to use the resort island model and a trial project to see if it will be a success in terms of rebooting the tourism and local economy,” said Yuthasak.

The TAT governor said that his officials have visited Phuket to discuss disease control measures with business operators prior to the event of the newly discovered local COVID-19 case.

The Phuket model was previously proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, allowing only the fittest foreign tourists into the island, however going through COVID-19 tests at the Phuket airport and a 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine, all under the expense of the tourist.

Also, should the foreign tourist test negative for COVID-19, he/she can then travel to other provinces after staying in Phuket for at least 7 days after the 14-day quarantine.

A week ago, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn told reporters that his ministry is in talks with related sectors of the government in rolling out grants for foreign tourists to stay in Phuket for up to a length of nine months.

However, with the new local COVID-19 case discovered last week, both Yuthasak and Phiphat have yet disclosed a definite date of re-opening up Phuket for fear of another surge in infections.

Thai health authorities said that the newly discovered COVID-19 case probably contracted the virus from a foreign tourist at a pub in downtown Bangkok.

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