Saksayam admits sluggish start to sandbox plan

Saksayam admits sluggish start to sandbox plan

More than 5,500 foreign visitors have entered Phuket since the resort island reopened to tourism two weeks ago under its sandbox scheme.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said that between July 1, when the scheme started, and Wednesday, 6,834 international passengers flew into Phuket Airport. Of them, 5,551 entered the province.

He admitted the number of tourists was very low, a drop of 98% compared to 350,000 foreign visitors during the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, Thai Airways International Plc says has made flight changes because Covid-19 infections have been increasing.

Passenger and cargo flights to some destinations where there are high infection rates have been suspended, the airline said.

The route change is to comply with the latest directives from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to curb Covid-19 transmission, it added.

The airline has suspended flights to and from Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Phuket and Bangkok-Krabi until Sept 30 and will operate limited international passenger flights to Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Yangon, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Denpasar, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Kunming, Xiamen, Taipei-Seoul, Fukuoka, Chitose, Sendai and Busan.

Thai Smile Airways has cut flights to one per day between July 12-31 on seven routes -- Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Chiang Rai, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Krabi and Narathiwat.

It has also brought forward the arrival time of its Phuket-Bangkok and Khon Kaen-Bangkok flights to 7pm, because of the curfew imposed under the recent Emergency Decree and health measures of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Currently, it also operates flights to Chiang Mai and Hat Yai.

Meanwhile, the Phuket Public Health Office reported 11 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, three foreign visitors were among them. Between April 1 and July 14, accumulated cases totalled 797 with 9 deaths.

Phuket also reported 299 new visitors on Thursday.

Since the Phuket Sandbox scheme began two weeks ago, 10 visitors have tested positive for the virus.

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