TAT works to bolster confidence in Phuket
The Tourism and Sports Ministry aims to lure both fully vaccinated foreigners and local travellers to Phuket to help boost confidence and shore up tourism demand as part of its sandbox model.
The ministry wants to restart domestic travel in August.
Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans to sign a memorandum of understanding this month with the Thai Chamber of Commerce to support domestic trips in Phuket, which could build up local confidence.
Mr Phiphat said chamber members can start taking trips from July 1 as part of the scheme to help reassure both vaccinated foreigners and Thais that they can safely travel to Phuket.
In terms of pending domestic stimulus, he said the ministry has to wait for progress on inoculations in June and July before relaunching tourism subsidies in August.
The government's domestic tourism goal has been downgraded to 100-120 million trips, generating 550 billion baht.
Mr Phiphat said the creation of a tourism fund to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic is still being discussed. The Association of Thai Travel Agents is gathering information on financial aid before submitting it to the ministry.
He plans to talk to the Finance Ministry about how to use the government's 500-billion-baht loan decree for this task.
As the Public Health Ministry is still concerned about a possible surge of infections in the future, travellers have to stay on the island for 14 days during the first month of reopening, said Mr Phiphat.
If there is no new outbreak in July, the ministry hopes to convince the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and the Public Health Ministry to reduce the stay to seven days.
He said after the Phuket sandbox receives approval from the Center for Economic Situation Administration, it is halfway to receiving an official endorsement.
"Once the Phuket sandbox agenda is published in the Royal Gazette, the government has guaranteed the plan will go ahead as scheduled," said Mr Phiphat.
The government still has to provide sufficient vaccine supplies to create herd immunity by this month.
All 29 TAT overseas offices have started promoting Phuket to foreign tourists. As of May 30, airlines announcing direct service to Phuket include Thai Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, El Al Israel Airlines, Qatar Airways and British Airways.