Phuket tipped to receive 6% more visitors

Phuket tipped to receive 6% more visitors

Island can 'handle heavier air traffic'

Officials conduct an exercise to ensure service readiness at Phuket airport on Wednesday. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)
Officials conduct an exercise to ensure service readiness at Phuket airport on Wednesday. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

Phuket International Airport is ready to welcome international tourists under the island's "sandbox" scheme due to start next month and cope with a 6% increase in air traffic, Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Ltd said on Wednesday.

Despite the likelihood that air traffic at the airport will drop by 45% during this fiscal year to only around 339,340 flights due to Covid-19, traffic is expected to rebound a little once the Phuket sandbox scheme kicks off on July 1, the state agency's executive vice-president, Tinnakorn Chuwong said.

At least five more flights will arrive at Phuket airport each day, bringing the total daily number to 80 flights per day, or a 6% increase on current daily air traffic, he said. "The heavier air traffic is not beyond our capacity, since during a normal period, Phuket airport has up to 350 flights per day," he said.

Phuket governor Narong Woonsew says officials are also ready to implement the sandbox plan, which also heralds the country's reopening to tourism, once international tourists arrive.

Mr Narong said visitors would come from low- and medium-risk countries in Europe and elsewhere and would arrive on Thai Airways International flights from London, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Paris and Zurich.

Before travelling, visitors must have a negative Covid-19 test, purchase Covid-19 insurance coverage of at least US$100,000 (3.1 million baht) and have a reservation at a hotel with a Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus certificate, he said.

On arrival, visitors will be tested again for Covid-19 at Phuket airport. They would have to wait in their hotel room for the result. If the test is negative, they will be allowed to go out.

However, they still have to pass two more tests on day 6 or 7 and day 12 or 13 of their trip. If they pass all three tests, they can continue travelling in Thailand. They would also be required to install the smartphone tracking app "Mor Chana".

These rules are also extended to Thais returning from abroad, while Thais from other provinces must be vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19 before entering Phuket, he said.

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