PHUKET: More than 1,300 foreign visitors have arrived in Phuket over the past three days under the quarantine-free "sandbox" scheme.
Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Phuket Office, said on Saturday 326 tourists arrived at the resort island on Thursday, 514 on Friday and 484 yesterday afternoon, bringing the total number of foreign visitors to 1,324 since the start of the scheme.
Ms Nanthasiri said her Phuket office will collect tourist figures every day which will be made public.
The government expects about 100,000 foreign tourists will travel to Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox Model during the third quarter of this year from July to September, kickstarting tourism again after a quiet patch.
Thai Airways International yesterday brought another 122 tourists on three flights from Europe to the resort island.
The three flights from Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Paris yesterday carried 158 passengers, 122 of whom disembarked in Phuket, while the rest went on to Bangkok.
They were among 484 passengers on seven flights scheduled to land in Phuket yesterday afternoon.
The number of tourists planning to stay in Phuket on the other four flights has not yet been confirmed.
None of the arrivals over the past two days have tested positive for Covid-19, authorities said.
Phuket reported seven local infections yesterday, bringing its third-wave toll to 746 cases and seven deaths.
So far, 67% of the local population of around 400,000 have been fully vaccinated while 84% have had at least their first dose, according to figures released on Friday.
Yesterday's arrivals were warmly welcomed by airport officials who gave them cloth face masks as souvenirs.
THAI executive Nont Kalintha, Tourism Authority of Thailand deputy governor Siripakorn Chiewsamut and executives of the Phuket airport led airline staff and officials to welcome the passengers travelling from Frankfurt at the airport.
Mr Nont said THAI was operating flights to Phuket in line with the government's policy to stimulate tourism and the economy and had arranged five direct flights from Europe to Phuket.
The two other flights will arrive today.
From July to September, flights from Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Paris will arrive in the island province every Friday while flights from London and Zurich will arrive every Saturday.