Hope, fears for 'Sandbox'

Hope, fears for 'Sandbox'

Life in Phuket on Wednesday evening. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)
Life in Phuket on Wednesday evening. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

The Phuket Tourism "Sandbox", a pilot phase of Thailand's ambitious tourism reopening plan, starts today on the resort island amid hope and fears.

As businesses expect a boost to the local economy, relying heavily on tourism, many locals fear the pro-tourism programme may end up sparking a new outbreak of Covid-19.

About 100,000 foreign tourists are expected to visit Phuket during the third quarter of this year from July to September, expecting to generate tourism revenue of about 8.9 billion baht.

This month, a total of 426 flights would serve 8,281 inbound passengers and 3,613 outbound travellers. The southern island province would average about 13 flights a day, said a government spokesman.

A total of 249 tourists under the Phuket Sandbox programme are scheduled to arrive in Thailand Thursday on flights from Israel, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, said the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

These tourists will stay in Phuket for at least 14 days, during which two Covid-19 tests will be given.

From Thursday, Phuket hopes to strike a balance between driving the economy with tourism and controlling the spread of Covid-19, said provincial governor Narong Wunsiew on Wednesday.

However, he admitted that it wasn't the foreign visitors arriving in Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox programme who are worrying the province. It's those who will come to the province by land from within Thailand.

Tha Chatchai security checkpoint, the main Covid-19 checkpoint on the road leading to Phuket, still needs more staff and technology to ensure everyone who will pass onto the island is thoroughly checked, he said.

"Only those fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and have proof of their vaccination will be allowed to enter Phuket,'' he said.

Patong beach appears to be the most popular destination for foreign tourists who have booked their hotels in Phuket under the tourism sandbox programme.

A total of 383 rooms have been booked at hotels in the Patong beach area for 1,671 visitors, he said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will greet and welcome foreign tourists today upon their arrival at Phuket international airport and visit the security checkpoint.

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  • balance (noun): a stable condition/relationship between two (or more) sides - ความสมดุล, การทรงตัว
  • checkpoint: a place where people are stopped and questioned and vehicles are examined, especially at a border between two countries - ด่านตรวจ
  • pilot: of a plan, product or system that is used to test how good something is before introducing it - นำร่อง
  • quarter (noun): three months of the year on the official calendar of the government or companies - ไตรมาส
  • revenue: income from taxes or business activities - รายได้
  • sandbox (noun): an isolated environment or situation. -
  • spark: to make something happen - ก่อให้เกิด
  • vaccination (noun): giving someone a vaccine, usually by injection to prevent them from getting a disease - การฉีดวัคซีน
  • worrying (adj): that makes you worry - น่าหนักใจ
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