Samui island prepares to reopen under sandbox program

Following the footsteps of Phuket, the eastern resort island of Koh Samui is set to become the second destination in Thailand to reopen in a sandbox initiative that admits vaccinated foreign tourists without having to quarantine.

Samui, one of the most popular destinations in the Kingdom, is aiming to welcome about 2,000 visitors during the first month of reopening, the local tourism board said. The authorities are now monitoring the Phuket sandbox situation to ensure the strategy is proceeding without any setbacks.

“We are closely watching the situation in Phuket. If most inbound tourists to Phuket are free from COVID-19, we will propose more relaxations on Samui and other islands in Surat Thani,” said Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, President of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui.

A total of 33 international airlines have now requested permission to schedule flights to Phuket in the coming months, a strong indicator that tourists still want to visit and of confidence in Thailand to manage the situation.

The health measures to control the spread of COVID-19 coupled with reluctance by people around the world to travel have had a diverse effect upon tourism and the economy in general.

Tourism is an essential component of Thailand’s economy. Under the sandbox system, international tourists who arrive in allowed areas do not have to undergo a 14-day quarantine. They can travel within the space during the first 14 days and venture to other parts of Thailand afterwards.

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