Phuket sandbox scheme for Covid-19 not quite the resounding success as expected

Data shows that most tourists spent 11 to 12 days on average in Phuket before flying home.
Data shows that most tourists spent 11 to 12 days on average in Phuket before flying home.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said 26,400 foreigners have landed in Phuket since the sandbox scheme was launched on July 1, and only 0.3 per cent, or 83 people, have tested positive.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the sandbox scheme targeted 100,000 tourists in the third quarter, but judging by the number of arrivals in July and August, the target may be impossible to achieve.

Phuket closed its borders to domestic travellers owing to the explosion in Covid-19 cases across Thailand, while tourists from Europe and the United States have kept the country off their travel itineraries because it is listed as a high-risk destination.

However, Mr Yuthasak said the sandbox scheme was successful in boosting local confidence because very few foreigners had tested positive, and most were found at the airport.

Data shows that most tourists spent 11 to 12 days on average in Phuket before flying home. Over the past two months, 366,971 room nights were reserved in Phuket's 400 SHA-plus hotels.

Meanwhile, a total of 462,968 room nights have been reserved since the project was launched - 190,843 in July, 176,128 in August, and 95,997 in September. Another 24,947 nights have been reserved for the high season from October to February next year.

Mr Yuthasak said TAT is focusing more on the high season and will discuss new schemes with Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn soon.

The first 60 days of the initiative saw 25,866 foreign arrivals, with nearly 7,000 from the United States and Britain. There were also many arrivals from Israel, Germany, France, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland, as well as 3,335 local tourists.

The most popular destinations for tourists after they completed their first 14 days in Phuket were Bangkok, followed by Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Krabi.