Thailand may reopen for tourists after Phuket's vacation model
With less than 0.3% of foreign visitors testing positive for the coronavirus under Thailand's strict "Sandbox" program on the island Phuket, according to local media, plans to reopen much of the country next month are seeming more likely to become reality, Daily Sabah reports.
Adding to the pressure to reopen the country is less positive news, at least for the tourism industry: Only 24,600 tourists took the government up on its "Sandbox" model for quarantine-free travel.
Officials had been hoping for at least 100,000 holidaymakers in the third quarter and a related revival of the important industry.
As Phuket's governor pointed out, it's virtually impossible to hit that target now.
Under the "Sandbox" model, it has been possible for people to vacation on Thailand's largest island since July 1, but they face a strict regimen of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, forced stays at a special hotel, a tracking app and special health insurance to be able to partake.
Even if the rules hadn't scared off tourists, an islandwide ban on alcohol and Thailand being declared a high-risk area by the British government have made it even harder for the country to woo tourists.
Thailand's tourism sector has been at a standstill for a year and a half due to the coronavirus pandemic. The number of infections in the country of 70 million inhabitants is falling slowly.