Tourism operators on the resort islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao have proposed the “Samui sealed route”, a plan to restart international tourism from 1st July in parallel with the pilot “Phuket Sandbox” programme, according to Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
Mr Ratchakitprakarn yesterday said the proposal was submitted to him during a meeting on Thursday as the operators reiterated their readiness to open the doors to international tourists.
The Phuket Sandbox programme, which is scheduled to kick off next month, is meant for fully vaccinated tourists from countries with low and medium risks of COVID-19 transmission.
Under the programme, tourists are allowed to visit Phuket without quarantine requirements. However, they must stay in Phuket for at least 14 days before being allowed to travel beyond the tourist island.
If approved, the “Samui sealed route” would allow foreign tourists to visit Koh Samui after staying on Phuket for seven days, Mr Ratchakitprakarn said, adding that he has agreed to forward the proposal to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the cabinet for consideration.
However, he said the proposal is unlikely to be approved ahead of the 1st July reopening of Phuket. Mr Ratchakitprakarn said the “Samui sealed route” plan could be implemented a month later, on 1st Aug.
He said that according to the proposal, tourists would be allowed to take a flight to Koh Samui after spending at least seven days in Phuket. After spending seven days on Koh Samui and testing negative for COVID-19, the tourists would be allowed to travel anywhere in the country, Mr Ratchakitprakarn said.
He said the tourism sector will need to prepare and ensure that tourism businesses pass the safety and health administration (SHA) standards.
Mr Ratchakitprakarn said he has also agreed to look into a call by business associations to allocate COVID-19 vaccine doses for tourism operators and residents ahead of the reopening programme.
He said that business operators in nine other provinces that have been given the green light to reopen tourism on 1st October, including Phangnga, Krabi, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chon Buri, will have to prepare to secure regulatory approval.