Thailand's Phuket Island said it plans to welcome vaccinated tourists by October. This would allow visitors to avoid the mandatory two-week quarantine.
Thailand reopened its borders to foreign travelers in October with a new special tourist visa program. However, tourists still have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
For its part, Phuket, one of Thailand's top tourist destinations, plans to make it easier for tourists who have received their COVID vaccine to vacation on the picturesque island. The island plans to purchase enough vaccine to inoculate 70 percent of its 400,000 residents by September 1.
The project has not yet been approved by the government
The plan, called "Phuket First October," still needs to be approved by the government. According to Bloomberg, Phuket is considering purchasing doses of the Chinese vaccine Sinovac Biotech. Researchers have found the vaccine to be 50.4 percent effective.
The Phuket Tourism Association has not given any explanation of how the plan will be implemented, including which vaccines it plans to give to residents and which it will accept from tourists.
Thailand, meanwhile, said it would begin administering its COVID-19 vaccines on February 14. It will use the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been shown to be 82% effective.
Like other tourism-dependent countries, Thailand's economy has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2019, nearly 40 million foreign tourists visited Thailand. This brought in more than $64 billion in revenue, or about 11% of the country's GDP. In 2020, the year international travel all but disappeared, Thailand's tourism revenue was a fraction of that amount: less than $28 billion. That amount comes mostly from domestic travel, according to the Pattaya Mail.
Thailand has reopen since octobre 2020
In October 2020, Thailand reopened its doors to foreign travellers to a limited extent by launching a new tourist visa program. This program allows visitors to stay in the country for up to nine months. It has announced that it will issue 1,200 such visas. However, the country has been struggling to fill those few spots.
Travelers were likely deterred by the mandatory 14-day quarantine, which can cost anywhere from €1,000 to nearly €10,000.
Jessada Srivichian, the financial director of the Clover Hotel in Phuket, said she had never seen Phuket, and Thailand, so quiet in 20 years. "We need international visitors," she said. "We're not thinking of making a profit, but rather minimizing losses." As long as there is a quarantine requirement, she said, people won't come.
If Phuket can make this project a reality, tourists will be able to enjoy a quarantine-free, COVID-free vacation on its sandy shores in a few months.