Five more areas open to tourists on Nov 1

Phuket Sandbox proves a success with B2.3bn added to economy, says government

Khao San Road, a popular tourist spot in Bangkok, remains largely deserted even after the government allowed eateries to open on Oct 1 this year. (Photo by Nutthawat Wichieanbut)

Five more tourist destinations in Thailand will be opened to visitors starting Nov 1 on the condition that there is no new large Covid-19 cluster in the areas until then.

The areas are Bangkok, Chiang Mai (Muang, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng and Doi Tao districts), Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin district), Phetchaburi (Cha-am district) and Chon Buri (Pattaya, Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts), government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Saturday. 

Bangkok is of particular concern since it is the gateway to the country. 

“Although tourists may prefer to go to the sea or mountains, almost all of them have to visit Bangkok at least once on their trips to the country,” he said. 

The capital has been the epicentre of the second wave of the outbreak, with the highest number of cases and deaths, although the number of new cases has fallen to slightly more than 10,000 a day in recent weeks, a level manageable by the healthcare system, according to authorities. 

It remains unclear what the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s view on the plan is. Earlier, the Bangkok governor had said Bangkok would be opened only when he gave the green light. 

Mr Thanakorn said the government’s decision followed the success of the Phuket Sandbox scheme, which has injected 2.33 billion baht into the economy over the past three months since its launch in July, he said. 

As of Thursday, 43,026 tourists visited the resort island. Hotel bookings for stays from July this year to February next year totalled 779,502 nights. The top five nationalities of the visitors were American, Israeli, British, German and French. 

The Samui Plus programme and the 7+7 extension to the Phuket sandbox attracted 1,069 visitors.  

The government projected 1.5 trillion baht in tourist income next year. Almost half of it, or around 600 billion baht, would come from 15 million foreign tourists. 

The domestic travel market is estimated to add another 800 billion baht. 

The forecasts were half of the amount earned in pre-Covid 2019, when tourism revenue totalled 3.4 trillion baht. 

“Under the Phuket sandbox, there have been no reports of transmissions between foreign visitors and Thais. Thais should therefore be confident and join us in transforming Thai tourism,” Mr Thanakorn said. 

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