Mandatory Covid-19 tests to persist in Phuket
Compulsory Covid-19 testing in Phuket is expected to remain for the time being to ensure a high level of safety for the upcoming Phuket sandbox.
"The current lockdown-like conditions for those who want to visit the province are too strict despite the low number of cases and situation being under control," said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, president of the Thai Hotels Association's southern chapter.
Phuket tightened up travel restrictions this month and now requires all visitors to present a test certificate no older than 72 hours and a letter to declare their reason for visiting the province or alternatively a vaccine certificate.
He said the travel declaration is interrupting the transportation of goods because not every company can prepare such letters while some companies cannot afford to pay additional costs for testing which would include 300-400 baht per rapid test and 3,500 baht for an RT-PCR test.
Signs of recovery may begin in the middle of June from people from the southern provinces first as tourists from the central region, especially Bangkok, are still struggling with the virus. But visitors still have to comply with health screening procedures or be fully vaccinated when visiting, he said.
Mr Kongsak said vaccines that were requested for Phuket will cover more than 70% of the population, which is enough to maintain herd immunity even though the province has to welcome domestic tourists who have not been inoculated.
Travel requirements will change when most Thais have received vaccines by the end of the year.
He said the Foreign Ministry has to also work on travel bubbles with potential nations to ensure travellers won't face quarantine when returning home, especially the short-haul market.