Phuket’s first arrival flight among the updated” relaxed” restrictions on the Thailand Passport has arrived! A flight from Qatar with 324 passengers landed at Phuket International Airport this morning and an airport director said that today a total of 4 . 482 travellers are expected.
The director said an average of 27 flights per day are expected to arrive in Phuket in May, as confirmed by 21 airlines. Today’s passengers reportedly took about 17 minutes to go through the required arrival procedures. They were greeted by a team of staff led by the director of Phuket International Airport and officials from immigration, customs and international disease control agencies.
The news comes as Thailand massively eased its entry requirements yesterday. Vaccinated travellers do not need a Covid- 19 test (neither pre-travel nor on arrival) and unvaccinated travellers can either present a negative PCR test result issued within 72 hours of travel or stay for 5 days quarantine at an alternative quarantine hotel.
In the days before Covid, Phuket made by far the most money from tourism. Today’s arrival flight was likely to cause celebration for employers and workers in hotels, restaurants, street vendors and several other businesses whose incomes have been cut by the Thai government’s restrictions to combat the Covid- 19 pandemic.
Phuket was the first company to open on the 1st of last year. July a“ quarantine-free” re-entry procedure for Thailand – the“ Sandbox” – was introduced. It eventually morphed into the much-discussed Thailand Passport, which still exists but in a much-diluted form.
The abolition of any pre-travel or on-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers is seen as a major step towards fully reopening Thailand’s ailing tourism industry and its reputation as a haven for Southeast Asian tourism.
Phuket officials have struggled to find ways to revitalize the tourism economy. This year they have organized 2 seafood festivals and a hot air balloon event at the Sarasin Bridge which connects Phuket to the mainland. These events were intended to generate income for the island’s farmers and vendors. With an influx of tourists expected starting this month, we’ll see what Phuket officials have in store next.
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