U.S. tourists still number one in Phuket sandbox

Tourists from the U.S. have been the largest group of visitors to Phuket after nearly three months of its tourism sandbox scheme. The sandbox allows vaccinated visitors entry to the resort island, Phuket, and its white sand beaches.

The Phuket sandbox is an experimental policy by the Thai government to begin reopening the Kingdom to visitors from overseas in a controlled and monitored manner. The policy is intended to reduce the possibilities of creating a surge in COVID-19 infections. The sandbox has proven successful enough that it has been extended to several other islands and resort areas.

Tourists from the U.S. were the largest group of arrivals since July 1. It is a surprising statistic considering the great distance and long traveling times between the two countries. American visitors are usually near the bottom of the top 10 countries of origin for tourists in Thailand.

Nearly 6,000 visitors from the U.S. were followed by Israel, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Switzerland, Qatar, the Netherlands and just over 500 from Belgium.

Hotels in Phuket have enjoyed more than 520,000 paid room nights since the launch of the island province’s sandbox 12 weeks ago, according to a government spokesperson.

“This gives some breathing space for people who depend on tourism,” said Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesperson of the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Phuket is not COVID-free, but most infections recorded have been among a small group of workers and others who are unlikely to have contact with foreign tourists and are generally outside the sandbox areas on the island.

Photo courtesy of https://www.tatnews.org/2021/10/phuket-sandbox/