CESA to receive 7+7 island extension plan on Thursday
Sandbox areas remain unfazed by the removal of Thailand from the European Union's (EU) white list as tourists still don't have to quarantine upon return. Meanwhile, travellers can island-hop after a 7-day stay in Phuket as the plan is expected to begin on Aug 1, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, said the latest travel advisory from the EU hasn't had an impact because the status of Thailand as a basic risk area will not require travellers to quarantine when they return home.
However, TAT will closely monitor tourism demand and try to promote the sandbox as a safe haven as opposed to the rest of the nation.
During the first 18 days of the Phuket sandbox, the island has recorded 8,377 visitors, of which 16 tested positive for Covid-19.
Meanwhile, hotels certified under Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus have received bookings of 229,716 nights in the third quarter.
The top domestic destinations that travellers are heading for after spending two weeks in Phuket are Surat Thani with 63 travellers, followed by Phangnga (25), Krabi (19), Prachuap Khiri Khan (10) and Chon Buri (7), according to Immigration Phuket's sandbox report.
Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT deputy governor of marketing for Asia and the South Pacific, said demand for Samui Plus will not increase rapidly as travel agents have just started selling packages but growth is expected this week and next month.
Airline bookings for Koh Samui between July 19-31 stand at 101 seats, 92 in August, 32 in September and 22 in October.
Since reopening, only 15 foreigners have taken part in Samui Plus, while the number of arrivals on Koh Samui-Phuket flights, which began on July 16, has gradually increased to 55 visitors.
"The agency plans to submit the 7+7 sandbox extension which will allow tourists to stay in Phuket for seven days before visiting other islands to the Centre for Economic Situation Administration [CESA] on Thursday," said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
Besides Phangnga and Krabi, which are set to be marketed as additional destinations from Phuket on Aug 1, other areas have to wait for vaccines to reopen as planned. Some destinations may have to delay their timeline such as Pattaya.
In terms of the recent lockdown, Mr Yuthasak said the domestic flight ban will impact Thai returnees and some business travellers under the programme due to the lack of flights to Bangkok.
TAT plans to discuss with local airlines a solution to support travellers in the sandbox who want to fly to other provinces out of the highly restricted zones.