Thailand adds three beach provinces to tourism sandbox

Beach-loving tourists will have more options in Thailand as the government approved new sandboxes in 3 other southern provinces to safely welcome visitors determined to travel during the pandemic.

The government decided to expand the sandbox to the provinces of Surat Thani, Krabi and Phangnga, which have some of the most popular beaches in the Kingdom, including those on the resort island of Koh Samui. The 3 are now among the active sandbox destinations in addition to the beach resort island of Phuket.

The Thai government launched its first sandbox in Phuket in the middle of last year as an experiment to see if it could restart tourist arrivals in a controlled, safe and limited fashion. The Phuket sandbox has proven to be successful and has welcome about a quarter of a million visitors since it was launched.

Before the extreme transmissibility of the omicron variant, the sandbox model was set to be dropped and a “Test and Go” approach would be fully implemented in which visitors arriving in the Kingdom were free to travel anywhere if their first COVID-19 test result upon arrival were negative.

However, with the current spread of omicron, the “Test and Go” model was paused to reintroduce stricter health measures like the sandbox approach.

Visitors to the 3 new sandbox provinces must follow the same 7-day protocols as those in the Phuket sandbox. It requires one RT-PCR test upon their arrival at registered hotels and another 5 or 6 days later. Visitors are allowed to travel freely for the next 6 days within the province they arrived in if their first test result were negative.

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