Thailand will waive quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors arriving on the resort island of Phuket from July 1, the first key reopening for the tourism-reliant nation, reports Bloomberg.
An economic panel chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha approved the proposal by Phuket’s private sector and business groups to inoculate at least 70 per cent of the island’s residents to prepare for the reopening for vaccinated tourists, according to Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
The government plans to test the reopening plan in Phuket before expanding to other key tourist hot spots, like another resort island, Koh Samui, to help restart the tourism industry battered by a year without its millions of tourists who contributed to one-fifth of the economy before the pandemic.
The approval means that Phuket will reopen three months earlier than the rest of the country, which is expected to reopen for those who are fully vaccinated only in October.
Phuket residents will also be prioritised in the vaccine roll-out, with more than 930,000 doses expected to be administered before the reopening, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, President of the island’s tourist association said separately earlier this week.
An early reopening could add more than THB 30 billion (USD 1.3 billion) to the economy, but a successful reopening also hinges on the international vaccine passport agreement and negotiations with other countries to allow free travel, Bhummikitti said.