As part of plans to stimulate a rebound in tourism, some countries have moved to waive compulsory quarantine for international travellers who have received a coronavirus vaccine.
In late March it was announced that, as of July 1, foreigners visiting the popular Thai holiday island of Phuket will be exempt from quarantine upon arrival if they have received two vaccine doses.
- – As of July 1, vaccinated travellers to Phuket will be exempt from mandatory quarantine
- – The strategy is being combined with mass vaccinations to trigger a recovery in tourism
- – The plan could provide a blueprint for the successful resumption of international travel
- – Governments are increasingly looking towards travel bubbles and quarantine exemptions
Local officials also stated that after one week in Phuket without showing symptoms – and testing negative – tourists would then be able to travel to the rest of the country.
A significant turnaround in Thailand’s pandemic strategy.
The decision marks a significant turnaround in Thailand’s pandemic strategy. The implementation of strict two-week quarantine measures for overseas visitors and Thais returning from abroad has been central to the country successfully limiting the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths to 30,000 and 95, respectively.
Restrictions were already eased somewhat in April, with the quarantine time reduced to 10 days for travellers from most countries and one week for fully vaccinated arrivals.
This forms part of a broader roadmap to opening tourism across the country. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the quarantine-exemption measures implemented in Phuket will be extended to five other key tourism destinations – Krabi, Phang Nga, Surat Thani (Ko Samui), Chonburi (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai – from October 1.
The strategy is also being accompanied by a mass rollout of vaccinations across the region. While medical workers, the elderly and government ministers were the first to receive vaccinations, officials have sought to prioritise Phuket over other parts of the country, and hope to build an immunity of 70-80% on the island by July 1.
Importance of tourism
The focus placed on Phuket has reinforced the importance of tourism to Thailand’s overall economy.
While it accounted for around 11-12% of pre-pandemic GDP, the sector has been devastated by the virus, with an estimated 1.45m people losing their jobs since the outbreak early last year.
Many hotels and resort towns bore the brunt of the damage, with normally busy tourism hotspots largely abandoned during…