Phuket banking on 129,000 arrivals
Phuket is set to welcome 129,000 international tourists in the first three months of the quarantine-free programme, while the government will team up with airlines to subsidise 100,000 one-way domestic air tickets, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the reopening initiative -- Phuket Sandbox -- is expected to attract 30,000-40,000 tourists per month with long-haul markets being the main target.
He said seven-day tour packages in Phuket will cost around 150,000-200,000 baht per person, which is significantly higher than average spending per of around 50,000 baht per trip prior to the outbreak.
Tourists have to board a direct flight to the island to ensure safety, but if time slots at the airport are fully booked, tourists can transit at Suvarnabhumi airport via a sealed terminal.
TAT also discussed with Thai Airways and Thai Smiles Airways a subsidy scheme for domestic air fares of 1,000-2,000 baht for tourists who visit Phuket via the sandbox programme and will expand this joint promotion with all local airlines.
Mr Yuthasak said tourism would gear up towards this year's tourism goal of 3-4 million visitors in the fourth quarter after another nine areas in the reopening plan are included.
The agency plans to propose standard operating procedures (SOP) of entry process for international arrivals, such as procedures on Covid-19 testing and guidelines for sealed routes to the Centre for Economic Situation Administration for approval within this month.
After the SOP is approved and once there is an official announcement in the Royal Gazette, tour operators can proceed with sales and marketing plans.
TAT also has to work on supply development and vaccination plans, including risk management in the case of an emergency.
He said the country has to watch out for new infection clusters, especially in Bangkok, as it may affect the vaccine distribution to Phuket.
"The new outbreak in Thailand didn't affect tourism sentiment in foreign markets as the media in each country turned their focus towards the situation in India and domestic cases in their own countries," said Mr Yuthasak.
"However, travel agents expressed concern that the virus situation may affect the reopening timeline which prompted TAT to confirm that everything is running as scheduled."
He said travel agents are waiting for clear entry regulations, so they can offer packages to their customers.