The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is working with Thai Airways in preparation for Phuket’s planned quarantine-free reopening with Thailand’s flag carrier airline selling flights from Copenhagen and three other European cities directly to Phuket to test the demand, local media Bangkok Post reports.
Thai Airways’ flights from Copenhagen, Paris, Frankfurt, and London will fly direct to Phuket airport before flying onwards to Suvarnabhumi airport.
Hundreds of tour agents are invited to take experimental trips during the third quarter to test Phuket’s Sandbox scheme but the tourist demand is expected to be on the softer side in the initial stages due to tight travel restrictions in Thailand and some European countries.
In addition, Thailand has also extended its state of emergency until 31 July which means all services to Phuket have to be conducted as semi-commercial flights and all passengers are required to present a certificate of entry before arrival as part of Covid-19 containment measures.
According to Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas at TAT, the agency plans to work with other international airlines as well to bring hundreds of overseas tour agents to Phuket as a small group at different times. The province is eager to hear feedback about the entry process, travel experiences during the pandemic as well as new tourist products including local stakeholders, such as farmers and local communities. “Our travel surveys in several countries found tourists still want to come to Thailand, but seek unique, quality experiences. Phuket must strictly follow the plan to improve its standards this year,” Siripakorn Cheawsamoot said.
The plan is that vaccinated tourists will be exempt from quarantine in Phuket from 1 July onwards but according to Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, tourists may be reluctant to travel to Thailand if it means isolation for many days when they return home. He expects the demand to rise once the situation in Thailand improves and while several parts of Thailand still report high daily infections, TAT has scaled down its marketing to a city level instead of designated areas around the country.
Islands such as Phuket and Samui have limited entry points, allowing them to better control the flow of tourists and administer health screening measures more efficiently, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot said.