Phuket bookings on rise as Thailand entry period cut to 7 days


From tomorrow (October 1), foreign tourists in the “Phuket sandbox” will only have to spend one week on the island before they can travel to other provinces in Thailand. The sandbox period was reduced from 14 days in a bid to lure more tourists after a lukewarm response in the first three months.

Since its launch on July 1, the Phuket sandbox has drawn only 37,978 foreign visitors – little more than one-third of the 100,000 targeted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The low numbers have been blamed on various factors, including the Covid-19 situation and intensive screening measures.

The top five countries of origin for Phuket sandbox visitors are the US (5,792), Israel (5,414), UK (4,740), Germany (3,795) and France (3,646).

Kongsak Khupongsakorn, president of the Southern Thai Hotels Association, said that disease control among tourists on the island has been very good since July. But he lamented that tourist numbers have been low.

He has higher hopes for the fourth quarter, especially if authorities respond to pressure from the private sector by allowing Phuket restaurants to serve alcohol, simplifying entry requirements at the airport, and reducing the required number of Covid tests from three to two.

Kongsak said tourists had already booked 150,000 nights in October – matching bookings for each of the three previous months. He expects October bookings to rise as high as 200,000-250,000 nights as the situation improves.