Mon, January 24, 2022

in-focus

Tourism Ministry eyes sandbox schemes for other tourist islands


In a bid to tackle a drop in tourist arrivals after the temporary suspension of the Test & Go scheme, the Tourism and Sports Ministry will this Friday propose that other islands be reopened under the sandbox scheme.

“We need a new campaign to attract foreigners who cannot enter Thailand under the Test & Go scheme until at least next month,” Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan said on Monday.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) will evaluate the Test & Go scheme at the end of January after it was suspended on December 21 to curb the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The Test & Go scheme allows fully vaccinated travellers to enter Thailand without having to quarantine and the CCSA was scheduled to reevaluate the suspension on January 4.

On Monday, the CCSA announced that foreigners who had registered for the scheme must enter the country before January 10. After that, they can register under the Phuket Sandbox scheme or use alternative quarantine (AQ) services.

“We chose islands [for the new scheme] because they have limited access, which makes it easier to contain cases in case infection clusters erupt,” Pipat said. “Initially, islands in five provinces will launch their own sandbox programmes, with a possibility of connecting with the existing Phuket sandbox programme.”

The islands being considered are:

• Surat Thani’s Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao

• Chonburi’s Koh Larn

• Rayong’s Koh Samet

• Trat’s Koh Chang and Koh Kut

• Krabi’s Phi Phi Islands

“Under the sandbox scheme, vaccinated travellers who test negative against Covid-19 will be allowed to travel on sealed routes to selected attractions, without having to quarantine,” Pipat added.

He added that the ministry also estimates that up to 15 million tourists will come to Thailand in 2022, based on several factors including the pandemic situation, availability of the Test & Go scheme and government policy in target markets.

Countries such as the US, Russia, India and China are still limiting flights to and from Thailand.

Published : January 04, 2022

By : THE NATION