The Thai government has got rid of its list of “approved countries”, opening up the sandbox tourism programme to fully vaccinated visitors from anywhere in the world. According to a Bangkok Post report, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has welcomed the move, which means Indonesian and Malaysian tourists can now visit the kingdom. Prior to Covid-19, Malaysia was Thailand’s second biggest source of foreign arrivals, with over 4 million Malaysian tourists arriving in 2019.
In other positive news, the recently-announced reduction in mandatory quarantine also applies to those participating in sandbox programmes, with tourists now only required to spend 7 days in their original destination before travelling elsewhere. Sandbox tourists can now visit Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phang Ngan, Koh Tao, Khao Lak, Koh Yao, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai, and Railay Beach.
The Phuket sandbox programme was launched on July 1 and since then, has welcomed over 38,000 foreign visitors, generating around 2.3 billion baht, according to officials. However, the Bangkok Post reports that tourism operators on the southern island are pessimistic about the coming high season. With 90% of the island’s hotels shut, they are urging the government to simplify the entry process and to reduce the cost of mandatory PCR tests.
Another significant deterrent for foreign tourists is the fact that Thailand is on a “no-go” list in some countries. Both the United States and the UK are cautioning their citizens against travel to Thailand, due to the high infection rate and low vaccination numbers. Tourists returning to the UK from Thailand currently face mandatory hotel quarantine and 2 Covid tests.