PHUKET, 3 August 2021: Tourism leaders attending the recent Phuket Sandbox Summit urge European governments to recognise Phuket’s status as a safe haven for international travellers.
Banyan Tree Group executive chairman KP Ho, who addressed the virtual summit, called on European envoys, airlines, senior officials and business leaders to award Phuket Sandbox “green” destination status.
As Bangkok and 28 provinces grapple with rising numbers of Covid infections, Ho argued that Phuket had the potential to lead the global tourism recovery, as the historic Phuket Sandbox initiative sets the standard for other destinations to follow.
But, to succeed, governments need to recognise it as a safe, self-enclosed destination, rather than combining its travel status with the rest of Thailand.
See full address by KP Ho, Executive Chairman, Banyan Tree Group:
KP Ho’s comments gained the support of the Tourism Authority of Thailand with the agency’s deputy governor for international marketing SiripakornCheawsamoot, saying: “We are trying to propose Phuket to the UK government to be on the green list of destinations, even though Thailand is on the amber list. We are optimistic about the Phuket Sandbox. Phuket is safe, and we will never compromise anyone’s safety.”
He confirmed there were almost 300,000 rooms booked until the end of August in SHA Plus hotels, with 13,281 visitorsand 128 flights in July. Travellers using the Phuket Sandbox to enter Thailand came from the US, Thailand, UK, Israel, Germany, France, UAE,Switzerland, Netherlands and Australia. The average length of stay reached 11 days.
Launched on 1 July 2021, the Sandbox enables fully-vaccinated international visitors to fly directly to the destination and stay on the island quarantine-free. Hotels need to ensure at least 70% of their staff have received vaccines – the same inoculation rate as Phuket’s population, creating herd immunity against Covid-19. While the high level of protection doesn’t prevent people from catching Covid-19, it does significantly reduce the likelihood of serious infection and hospitalisation.
Presenting the most up-to-date data, C9 Hotelworks Managing Director, Bill Barnett, added: “There is a lot at stake but what is clear is that Phuket Sandbox is alive and well, and it’s working.”