Thailand is set to begin a "sandbox experiment" from July 1, using Phuket as a trial balloon to welcome vaccinated foreign tourists without imposing quarantine.
8 international airlines will offer direct flights to Phuket in southern Thailand starting in July to carry foreign tourists vaccinated against COVID-19 who can stay on the island without quarantine.
Thai Airways International will focus on five European cities with flights from Paris, Frankfurt and Copenhagen starting July 2. Flights from London and Zurich will resume on July 3.
British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Israel's El Al will also operate flights to Phuket from July, according to Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects Singapore Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Taiwan's EVA Air, Korean Air, its low-cost subsidiary Jin Air and the French-Dutch airline KLM to join the seven participating airlines soon.
Thailand is about to start a "sandbox experiment" from July 1, using Phuket as a trial balloon to welcome vaccinated foreign tourists without imposing quarantine.
In Phuket, tourists will have to stay in hotels certified by the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA+), but they will be able to travel around the island.
Tourists with proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test result will be able to start their vacation immediately without having to lock themselves in a hotel room for two weeks, as visitors from other parts of Thailand must do.
But a first modification has already been made to the initial project of reopening: the minimum duration of stay in Phuket to be able to circulate freely in Thailand has been extended from 7 to 14 days.
In addition, travelers must be fully vaccinated for at least 14 days before departure and present a negative test result within 72 hours before boarding their flight.
If the second mandatory test on the fifth day of their stay is negative, they will be allowed to take a day trip off the island.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects 129,000 foreign visitors in the first three months of the trial. If the program goes well, vaccinated tourists will be allowed to travel to places such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, starting in October, and throughout the country in 2022.