Since last year, Thailand has closed its border due to the pandemic and while The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has been successfully operating the Phuket Sandbox travel scheme since 1 July, which has welcomed almost 50,000 international visitors into the travel programme, 14-day quarantines were still required. Last week, the government announced the opening of Phuket to all vaccinated travellers, under a quarantine-free travel scheme.

The sandbox programme and SHA

The Sandbox is a pilot project that allows fully vaccinated travellers from any country into Phuket, Surat Thani, Phang-Nga, and Krabi provinces and, after seven days, the rest of Thailand.

Thailand carefully welcomes visitors under the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) project, a cooperation between the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), and government and private hospitality sectors, which aims at encouraging “businesses in the tourism industry to prepare their workplaces to comply with the New Normal lifestyle”.

Authorities offer a SHA certificate that shows that approved hotels and other tourism providers meet sanitation measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Negative results and travel

Visitors upon arrival into Thailand will undergo a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test (RT-PCR), screening for COVID-19 and the usual health, immigration and customs procedures at the airport. RT-PCR appointments can be booked online and two tests shall be done, upon arrival at the airport and the second test on Day 6 on a selected swab test center.

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Guests are transported to their SHA hotel to await test results. When the test is negative, they can travel freely throughout Phuket with the active designated tracing application.

An additional RT-PCR test is carried out on days six to seven. Subject to visitors having negative tests throughout their stay in Phuket, Surat Thani, Phang-Nga, and Krabi, they can then freely travel throughout the rest of the Kingdom of Thailand. Each guest will need to show proof of stay in Phuket, the negative test results and documentation required by the respective provinces.

Big Buddha in Phuket, Thailand (© Miltiadis Fragkidis via Unsplash)

The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects to welcome at least 100,000 visitors to Phuket by the end of 2021.

This month, TAT also announced that they would also welcome fully vaccinated travellers to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao where they will undergo the same procedure as Phuket.

Header image credits: Mikk Tõnissoo via Unsplash

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