From 1 July, foreign tourists who are vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to visit Phuket and move about freely without having to quarantine.
The Thai government on Friday (26 March) approved the proposal by Phuket's private sector and business groups to inoculate at least 70% of the island's residents in order to reopen the destination to vaccinated tourists, Bloomberg reported.
Under this plan, dubbed Tourism Phuket Sandbox, Phuket residents will also be prioritised in the Thailand's vaccine rollout programme, with more than 930,000 doses set to be administered prior to the reopening.
Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of Phuket Tourist Association, expects the reopening to bring more than 30 billion baht (US$965 million) to the economy.
Under the plan, tourists who want to join the proposed quarantine-free programme are required to show a vaccine certificate, vaccine passport or International Air Transport Association (IATA) travel pass, according to a Bangkok Post report. Foreign tourists are still required to take a PCR test at the airport and activate the ThailandPlus tracing app while in Phuket.
Phuket's July opening will come three months earlier than the rest of the country, which is expected to reopen for tourists who are fully vaccinated only in October.
Phuket is also expected to serve as a model for the reopening process for Thailand's other tourism-reliant destinations such as Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Koh Samui.