Thailand to reopen Phuket to vaccinated tourists from July
A panel chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha on Friday approved the proposal by Phuket’s private sector and business groups to inoculate at least 70% of the island’s residents to prepare for the reopening for vaccinated tourists, according to Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
The government plans to test the reopening plan in Phuket before expanding to other key tourist hotspots including Koh Samui to help restart the tourism industry battered by a year without its millions of tourists, who contributed to one-fifth of the economy before the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.
The approval means that Phuket will reopen three months earlier than the rest of the country, which is expected to welcome fully inoculated visitors only in October. Phuket residents will also be prioritized in the vaccine rollout, with more than 930,000 doses expected to be administered before the reopening, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the island’s tourist association said separately earlier this week.
An early reopening could potentially add more than $963 million to the economy, but its success hinges on the international vaccine passport agreements and negotiations with other countries to allow free travel, Bhummikitti said. ■