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  • They should get some help
    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

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    • Perhaps another World Bank/IMF loan or two.

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      • You think they'll help you out with that piece of pie you'll never receive
        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

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        • Lower hopes for Phuket

          The Phuket sandbox tourism scheme faces a chaotic approval process as the government is still struggling to fine-tune the balance between public health and the economy.

          Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha reasserted that the reopening plan for the island, known as the Phuket sandbox, will start on July 1 after it was approved in principle by the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) on June 4.

          However, it still requires confirmation from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), which scheduled a meeting on June 18, before submission to the cabinet for final approval on June 22.

          Yuthasak Supasorn, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor, said the last step is publication in the Royal Gazette, which should be announced in the final week of June to meet the scheme timeline.

          The CCSA and CESA were established to tackle urgent tasks concerning the spread of Covid-19 and the economic impact in the country.

          This agenda has already been discussed on several occasions, including in meetings with subcommittees of CCSA and the Department of Disease Control.

          Following those discussions, the entry procedures saw a major revamp in recent weeks, such as the extension of the mandatory stay in Phuket from 7 days to 14 days, as well as the requirement for three Covid swab tests.

          Surapong Techaruvichit, managing director at Asia Hotel Group, said the international market might gradually pick up to 30-40% of 2019 levels by the middle of next year, but a total recovery remains far off as long as the government tries to find the right balance between health and the economy.

          "We have to operate the sandbox as if we are starting from zero. Some provinces trying to reopen may find local tourists shy away from their destinations," he said.

          "It might take some time to build up tourism confidence."

          Regarding the CCSA decision to end state quarantine (SQ) facilities for Thai returnees from July, Mr Surapong said not many SQ hotels remain as occupancy plunged following the third wave.

          Some SQ hotels, like the Asia Hotel Pattaya, have transformed into "hospitels", which are projected to receive fewer guests in the coming months if the vaccine rollout continues to administer more than 200,000 doses per day, as happened this week.

          "Even though we joined both the SQ and hospitel programmes in the past year, most properties could not post a profit. It just reduced the cash burn rate per month," he said.

          "The best we can hope for now is domestic tourists returning in October."

          Mr Yuthasak said the TAT acknowledges there is growing concern and discontent among the private sector about the additional measures for tourist destinations to reopen, which could discourage visitors in the initial stages.

          He insisted the tighter screening measures are necessary, as the Public Health Ministry stressed no tourist should be infected while roaming the island.

          "We should accept an influx of tourists is unlikely in the third quarter. This sandbox scheme was established as a test run, which means it is a gradual process where we determine the best practices to allow other destinations to follow suit," said Mr Yuthasak.

          "It is better to be selective in the beginning rather than risk losing our reputation if tourists acquire the virus while here or at their origin country.": https://www.bangkokpost.com/business...pes-for-phuket


          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

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          • 'No quarantine' under Phuket Sandbox: TAT

            There will be no quarantine for foreign visitors under the Phuket Sandbox scheme and their two-week confinement to the island will suffice, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) chief said on Saturday.

            The TAT is involved in reviewing the Tourism Sandbox scheme ahead of the island reopening to foreign tourists on July 1.

            The reopening plan for the island, known as the "Phuket Sandbox", is meant for fully vaccinated tourists from countries with a low or medium risk of Covid-19 transmission.

            The island is pinning its hopes of a revival on the scheme, while other resort areas are watching closely as they too seek a route to reopen to tourists.

            TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn paid a visit to the island yesterday during which he made the remarks.

            "I assure you there will be no quarantine. The TAT will support Phuket's efforts to restore its tourism industry," said Mr Yuthasak.

            The TAT is also stepping up plans to improve Phuket's reputation and emphasise safety in the build-up to high season.

            "When the reopening takes place, we have to make sure tourists are impressed by our measures from their journey from the airport to their hotels," said Mr Yuthasak.

            That journey will also involve three screening procedures in addition to tracing measures and mandatory use of phone tracking apps being imposed on the first rounds of foreign arrivals, he said.

            Mr Yuthasak said standard operation procedures (SOPs) will be presented to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Friday.

            These will form the backbone of efforts to attract 129,000 tourists between July and September to generate revenue of approximately 11.4 billion baht, as the island aims to maximise revenues when tourists return, he said.

            As well as foreigners, the TAT intends to promote the destination to vaccinated Thais in a new marketing campaign set to be discussed next week, he added.

            Bhummikitti Raktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said many issues became clearer after a workshop on the finer details of the plan.

            The measures the island is taking towards becoming the first province to achieve herd immunity and reopen its tourist industry in the wake of Covid-19 have received a lot of positive feedback.

            However, everyone must remember this is a process that must be undertaken step by step, he said.: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business...et-sandbox-tat
            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

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            • Over 100 SHA+hotels in Phuket ready to welcome tourists from July 1

              More than 100 hotels in Phuket have passed the SHA+ healthy safety standard and are ready for the launch of the tourism sandbox campaign in the province on July 1, Kongsak Khupongsakorn, president of Thai Hotel Association’s Southern Chapter, said on Monday.

              The SHA+, or Safety & Health Administration Plus standard, was launched by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Ministry of Public Health as guidelines for hotel entrepreneurs to append safety and health measures to the service quality standards to ensure safety of customers and staff during the pandemic.

              “Over 100 hotels in Phuket with combined rooms of over 10,000 are SHA+ certified, while 430 hotels with over 40,000 rooms are certified at SHA level,” he said.

              “To get an SHA+ approval, 100 per cent of hotel staff must be vaccinated.

              “The association believes that the vaccination of hotel staff should not be a problem, as so far over 200,000 Phuket locals have been vaccinated, and some of them are hotel staff,” added Kongsak.

              “The province expects to vaccinate another 200,000 locals before the end of June, so before the campaign starts we should have plenty of hotel staff who are vaccinated.

              “Furthermore, some 10,000 rooms at SHA+ certified hotels should be adequate for foreign tourists in the early phase of Phuket sandbox,” he added.

              “The TAT has estimated that in the first three months of the campaign, around 100,000 foreign tourists will enter Phuket, averaging around 30,000 people per month. This number of tourists will usually occupy 2,000 to 3,000 rooms per day.”

              Kongsak added that the current hotel occupancy rate in Phuket is only 5 per cent, forcing hotels to provide discounts to attract customers.

              “Five-star hotels are offering rooms at as low as THB2,000 per night, while the rate for villas has dropped to THB4,000 per night from the original price of over THB10,000 per night,” he said.

              “The association expects that once the sandbox programme passes its three-month pilot phase, foreign tourists will start pouring in and the occupancy rate in Phuket will climb up.”

              Under the sandbox scheme, foreign tourists who can verify they have been inoculated against Covid-19 and test negative can fly into Phuket and move around freely in the province without having to quarantine.

              After staying in Phuket for 14 days and testing negative, the tourists can then travel to other provinces in Thailand.: https://www.nationthailand.com/in-focus/40002048

              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

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              • Phuket sandbox reopening model may expand to other provinces

                The Tourism and Sports Ministry has proposed expanding the Phuket sandbox model of reopening to foreign tourists to Bangkok and several other tourist provinces.

                Apisamai Srirangson, spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said on Wednesday the tourism ministry proposed that the sandbox model be expanded to Bangkok, Chon Buri, Krabi (including the Phi Phi islands), Buri Ram, Chiang Mai, Surat Thani (Koh Samui), Phangnga, Phetchaburi (Cha Am) and Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin) if it is successful in Phuket.

                The tourist sandbox is set to launch on Phuket island on July 1.

                The province will be open to foreign visitors who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before their trip. They must come from low- to medium-risk countries, as defined by the Public Health Ministry, Dr Apisamai said.

                The Foreign Ministry will issue certificates of entry for the visitors. On arrival, Phuket authorities will verify visitors' vaccination certificates. The hotels they stay at must meet international disease control standards.

                Intending visitors must test negative for Covid-19 no more than 72 hours before flying to Phuket. Phuket airport will schedule flight arrivals to prevent crowding in the terminal.

                Upon arrival, visitors will be given a first Covid-19 test. Then they will travel to their hotels on designated vehicles.

                During their stay in Phuket, they must comply with disease control practices.

                They cannot travel to other provinces unless they first stay in Phuket for at least 14 days, during which time they must test negative for the virus in two subsequent tests, on day 6 or 7 and day 12 or 13 after arrival.

                They can return home from Phuket before completing their 14-day stay.

                CCSA would consider the proposal to extend the sandbox scheme at its meeting on Friday, Dr Apisamai said.: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand...ther-provinces

                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

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                • Thailand’s airports prepare for full reopening to foreign visitors in 4 months

                  Thailand’s airports are preparing for the full reopening of the country to foreign visitors in four months, a goal set by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday, according to Deputy Transport Minister Veerasak Wangsuppakitkoson, as he met with the Department of Airports (DoA) today (Thursday).

                  DoA Director-General Apirat Chaiwongnoi said improvements have been made to airport terminals and runways, while extensive COVID-19 preventative measures have been prepared. Priority is now being given to larger airports, such as Krabi.

                  Bookings have been made for 64 flights per week in and out of Krabi Airport between October 2021 and March 2022. The flights are both domestic and international. Among airlines operating the flights will be AirAsia, Spring Airlines and Sichuan Airlines.

                  Thailand is to reopen to fully vaccinated tourists, without quarantine requirements, starting on the resort island of Phuket, on July 1st, under the “Phuket Sandbox” model. Details of the project are expected to be finalised next week. Other tourist destinations, such as Bangkok, Krabi, Samui, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Hua Hin, are expected to follow the same model later.: https://www.thaipbsworld.com/thailan...s-in-4-months/


                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

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                  • New conditions set for reopening

                    The plan to reopen the country comes with conditions, with a major requirement that only provinces that have vaccinated 70% of their population will be allowed to open completely, according to a Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) meeting.

                    In addition, the Phuket sandbox tourism model could be paused on short notice if infections spike to 90 cases per week.

                    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday announced a 120-day deadline for the country to reopen to international tourists and the return of normal business conditions.

                    However, at a CCSA meeting on Friday, the body noted the mid-October goal for reopening might not be achieved nationwide.

                    "We learned from our first failed attempt to reopen Phuket to tourists last year that such a plan should have mutual agreement from the local community. The provincial government should make the evaluation on whether the province is ready to open to international tourists," said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

                    Mr Phiphat said the Phuket sandbox will be the model for other provinces to follow, meaning each province must have 70% of its population vaccinated and 100% of workers in the service sector inoculated.

                    Each province must set up an administration centre for reopening with the help of the Tourism and Sports Ministry and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to follow strict procedures, he said.

                    The CCSA meeting also approved in principle opening the sealed routes on three islands -- Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao -- to join the reopening plan from July 15.

                    However, tourists who want to visit these islands have to follow additional restrictions: they must stay at alternative local quarantine hotels and spend the first three days on the hotel premises before being permitted to travel via sealed routes on Samui between days 4 to 7. They can hop to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao from days 8 to 14.

                    TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the prohibition against Thais and those who have permanent residency in Thailand has also been removed from the Phuket sandbox.

                    However, Thai travellers who went abroad to receive Covid-19 vaccines and want to enter via Phuket must be vaccinated at least 14 days prior to arrival.

                    "There are no restrictions for Thais. However, inbound passengers, regardless of nationality, must get inoculated 14 days prior to arriving. They must also have been in low- to medium-risk countries at least 21 days before landing here," said Mr Yuthasak.

                    The list of low- and medium-risk countries will be regularly updated every two weeks by the Public Health Ministry, he said.

                    The Phuket sandbox can also be cancelled if the number of new infections surges to 90 per week.

                    Mr Yuthasak said 18 airlines are ready to fly to Phuket, offering roughly 200 flights. The number of booked seats stands at 6,789, but the TAT estimates it will rise to 9,000-10,000.: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business...-for-reopening

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

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                    • Phuket 'Sandbox' to draw 600,000

                      The Phuket reopening planned for July 1 is expected to draw more than 600,000 foreign and local tourists to the resort island and generate a cash flow of about 15 billion baht in the next three months, tourist authorities say.

                      Phuket governor Narong Woonciew said on Saturday the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) predicted about 129,000 foreign tourist arrivals and 500,000 Thais will visit Phuket between July and September.

                      The Phuket plan will kick-start the government's hopes to reopen the country in 120 days, or in October.

                      From July 1, Phuket will waive quarantine requirements for foreign tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 under the "Phuket Tourism Sandbox" model.

                      Youth join Covid relief effort: Volunteers pack instant noodles and other dry food to be distributed to elderly people affected by Covid-19. The Thai Red Cross Society is recruiting youth volunteers to help with its activities which will continue until June 26. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

                      The model is being touted as a model for the reopening of the tourism industry.

                      However, as a precaution, tourists will have to remain on the island for 14 days before they are allowed to travel to other destinations in the country.

                      Mr Narong said that all parties are speeding up preparations to ensure the reopening proceeds smoothly as planned.

                      "We want to see a smooth reopening," Mr Narong said.

                      "Our main goal is to be able to revive the local economy and prevent the spread of the pandemic at the same time. We hope we can show people in Phuket and in other parts of the country what benefit they will gain from the reopening."

                      He stressed that strict disease control measures must remain in place so that the province would not be put in a lockdown again.

                      Under the Phuket Sandbox model, foreign arrivals must come from countries where the Covid-19 situation is under control or the number of infections is moderate or low.

                      They should also have had both vaccine doses at least 14 days before travelling to Thailand and the vaccine they received must be authorised by the World Health Organization.

                      They should also have a Covid-free certificate issued within 72 hours of arriving in the country,

                      A Covid-19 check will be done on their day of arrival, followed by further tests on days six and 12. They must also stay and travel inside Phuket for two weeks and only then can travel elsewhere in the country, provided all their Covid tests produce negative results.

                      Nanthasiri Ronsiri, director of the TAT's Phuket office, said five airlines will fly foreign tourists, mostly from Europe, to Phuket on July 1.

                      They are Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Israel Airlines, Etihad Airways, and Emirates Airlines.

                      As for the readiness of hotels, restaurants and other businesses, the TAT has arranged hotels which have Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus hygiene standards certifications.

                      As of Thursday, 350,871, about 75% of Phuket's target population of 466,587, had been injected with a first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 193,042 had received their second shot, Chalermpong Sukhonthapol, director of Vachira Phuket Hospital, said.

                      Efforts are under way to speed up the second shots to create herd immunity in time for the July 1 reopening, Dr Chalermpol said.

                      Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, a secretary to the PM's Office Minister and spokesman for the Centre for Economic Situation Administration, wrote on Facebook that he visited Phuket and had a chance to speak to local vendors, hotel employees and airport staff.

                      "They said they were ready to welcome back tourists on July 1," he posted. "They were excited and pledged full cooperation."

                      Mr Thanakorn said the Phuket Tourism Sandbox plan is expected to draw more than 129,000 foreign tourists and generate a cash flow of about 15 billion baht between July and September.

                      If it proves to be a success, the Phuket reopening will serve as a model for other tourist provinces to follow, he posted.

                      He added all parties were working to prepare for the Phuket reopening.: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business...o-draw-600-000

                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

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                      • Originally posted by S Landreth View Post
                        Phuket 'Sandbox' to draw 600,000
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                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

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