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Phuket welcomes foreign tourists without restrictions

The Thai island of Phuket received almost 5,000 foreign tourists under new rules of entry to Thailand without PCR tests and “Test&Go”

More than 120 international flights carrying 21,268 passengers arrived at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok and Phuket on Sunday, May 1, the first day after the termination of the government’s “Test&Go” scheme that previously required OT-PCR tests before departure and at entry, and quarantine on the first night for fully vaccinated and those who tested negative 72 hours before departure.

Suvarnabhumi Airport alone recorded 16,868 arrivals from 96 flights. Read about it here: Thailand entry is 15 minutes – new rules from May 1

A total of 4,482 people arrived in Phuket that day, with the first flight arriving from Qatar QR842 Qatar Airways with 324 passengers on board, it landed at 6:55 a.m. at the province’s international airport. It is reported that it took about 17 minutes for the arriving passengers to go through the necessary arrival procedures. They were greeted by a team of staff led by the director of Phuket International Airport, as well as representatives from immigration, customs and international disease control.

Phuket Air Harbor Director Monchai Thanode said an average of 27 flights a day to the island are expected during May, which has been confirmed by 21 airlines.

“An average of about 27 international flights a day are already scheduled for this month. This is the first day of the change in the rules of entry to Thailand, and both domestic and international passengers are coming in all the time. After that, the number of tourists going to Phuket is expected to be at least 5,000 a day,” Manode said.

Phuket made most of its money from tourism in pre-Victorian days, and the arrival of today’s flights was probably a cause for celebration for employers and workers at hotels, restaurants, street vendors and several other businesses whose income has been cut because of restrictions imposed by the Thai government to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

As provincial governor Narong Wunsiu reiterated earlier this week, Phuket’s revenue from tourism is down 96%. The only average income figure recognized by Phuket officials during the pandemic is 1,900 baht per person per month.

Thailand was originally expected to attract 1 million tourists in the first quarter of this year, but as of yesterday the combined Sandbox and Test&Go schemes have attracted just over 500,000 foreign visitors to Phuket, including Thais returning home, expatriates and business travellers. That’s less than one “tourist” per person living in the last six months on a tourism-dependent island.

Getting rid of any testing before travel or upon arrival for fully vaccinated travellers is seen as a huge step toward fully restoring Phuket’s shattered tourism industry and Thailand’s overall reputation as a safe haven for tourism in Southeast Asia.

To the dismay of many people, Thailand’s Thai Pass entry system is still in place, discouraging potential tourists from wanting to go to the Sunshine Kingdom. However, reports have already surfaced that this last barrier will be removed by June 1. Read about it here: Thai Pass entry into Thailand will be cancelled on June 1

At this point, it looks like Thailand is finally moving in the right direction to really welcome tourists visiting the country. Any barriers to entry must be removed if we are to have any chance of actually restoring international tourism to the popular tropical country.

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