Phuket expects to generate tens of billions of baht from 1 million foreign arrivals over the next six months, tourism authorities announced on Thursday as they outlined their reopening timetable.
The Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) approved on Thursday the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) plan to promote Phuket as a world-class destination with a goal of generating 60 billion baht during the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2022.
Additional data was released about the performance of the island’s sandbox reopening scheme following its launch on 1st July.
Thai travellers topped the sandbox entrants the past three months, followed by the US as the biggest international source market.
The sandbox’s economic contribution during its first three months was 2.25 billion baht.
As of 29th September, Phuket tallied 7,494 Thai travellers to the island since July, while travellers from the US accounted for 5,845, followed by those from Israel (5,414) and the UK (4,758).
Among the 37,978 travellers enrolling in this scheme, 23,215 travelled to other destinations in the country after completing the mandatory 14-day stay in Phuket.
“We expect the number of visitors will significantly increase in the final quarter factoring in the quarantine reduction from 14 to seven days starting from October, while a consistent decrease in the infection rate benefits inbound markets in the upcoming high season,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT governor.
He said CESA also approved the easing of eight travel measures.
Three conditions have been implemented, comprising quarantine reduction; allowing group applications for certificate of entry (COE), which will enable tour operators to help clients process the entry forms; and allowing commercial flights from Russia at the end of October.
Mr Supasorn said the easing of restrictions should help generate at least 500,000 tour packages via chartered flights over the next six months, of which 295,000 packages would be from the Russian market, for a total of 2.5 million room nights, followed by 130,000 packages from the UK and Nordic countries, generating 200,000 room nights.
However, he said another five conditions require further discussion with related parties, including relaxing the high-risk contact rule for passengers boarding the same flight with a COVID-19 patient, reducing the RT-PCR test price, and reducing mandatory Covid insurance coverage from US$100,000 to $50,000.
TAT also plans to talk with the Foreign Ministry about the visa and COE system, which should be able to receive applications three months in advance, up from the current one month.
Discussions may also include the possibility of revoking the COE in the future, as well as coordinating with the Public Health Ministry on developing a verification system for vaccine passports, said Mr Supasorn.
In addition to the reopening programme, CESA said it agreed with the proposal to establish a tourism support fund to give the travel industry a makeover, with an initial budget of 5 billion baht.