Phuket’s travel and tourism industry is getting excited ahead of the island’s reopening on 1st July to vaccinated visitors.
Less than six weeks remain before international tourists arrive in line with the Phuket Sandbox model, 15 months after the country was closed.
The industry is abuzz with anticipation after months of no business or relying on the domestic market. First arrivals are expected to be from traditional long-haul European markets, with the UK, France, Germany and Scandinavia leading the way.
“The plan is still on and 1st July is the date we will receive international travellers who have been vaccinated and who can stay in Phuket without quarantine,” said Phuket Tourist Association President Bhummikitti Ruktaengam.
“We are on track with vaccinations to achieve herd immunity of 70% of the population, which includes expats with work permits.”
Mr Ruktaengam advised the travel industry to prepare its infrastructure, re-train staff and implement the new SHA Plus guidelines on health and safety for the imminent return of the European market.
“Europe is a big market. There is strong demand for Q3 and Q4 already,” he said.
“What is clear is that Phuket hotels need to get ready, and get ready quickly,” said Delivering Asia Communications CEO David Johnson.
“It has been a tough 15 months but there is light at the end of the tunnel and visitors from Europe will return first.
“The world has changed and it is important to respond to that. There are new bucket lists to fulfil for travellers who have been locked down for so long, dreaming of returning.”
Looking ahead to the end-of-year peak season, consulting group C9 Hotelworks’ Bill Barnett says 35-40% of travellers are likely to come from cold countries in northern, eastern and western Europe.