Foreign tourists voice displeasure about 14-day mandatory stay under Phuket sandbox
Many foreigners took to the Facebook group “Phuket Sandbox – Better Phuket By I Asia Thailand” to express discontent and opposition to the latest regulation that requires international tourists to stay in the province for 14 days under the sandbox scheme before they can travel to other provinces.
The Centre for Economic Situation Administration last Friday approved the launch of the Phuket tourism sandbox from July 1 after the centre changed the requirement from a 7-day mandatory stay to 14 days to ensure foreign visitors are free of Covid-19.
Under the scheme, foreign tourists who can verify they have been fully inoculated against Covid-19 and test negative can fly directly into Phuket and move around freely in the province without having to quarantine. After staying in Phuket for 14 days and still testing negative, they can then travel to other provinces in Thailand.
“Staying in Phuket for 14 days is too long and requires more money,” said one of the group members. “In the end many tourists who can’t afford this will cancel their trips altogether and this will eventually hurt Phuket’s local businesses.”
Many others posted that due to the prolonged-stay requirement, they decided to switch their destinations from Phuket to nearby countries.
Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn said last week that the Phuket sandbox is a pilot scheme to find and test suitable measures to be used in other top tourist provinces.
“There will be an evaluation within the first month with focus on the number of infections from foreign tourists,” he said. “If the infection rate does not increase, we could adjust down the requirement to seven days to attract more tourists.”
Pipat also said the 14-day requirement is only mandatory for those who wish to travel to other provinces.
“Those who plan to travel within Phuket for seven days or less and then return home can still do so,” he said.