Thailand announced it will be waiving quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors arriving on the picturesque resort island of Phuket from July 1, 2021.
(Photo Feature Credit: Travel Daily Media)
The ambitious plan makes the island-destination the first key destination to re-open for the tourism-reliant SEA nation - and it is hoped to spur business and tourism in Thailand.
TTR Weekly suggested visitors from countries with a vaccination rate of 70 per cent or above would be allowed to travel to Phuket and other popular wellness leisure destinations such as Krabi, Surat Thani (Samui, Tao and Phangan islands), Chonburi (Pattaya), and Chiang Mai without needing to quarantine.
The Thai government is hoping to sign bilateral agreements with countries meeting this benchmark to facilitate two-way travel.
MMGY Global’s December data suggested that 57% of business travellers intended to take a trip in the first six months of 2021, so these changes make the ease of doing business that much more manageable.
However, with international commercial airline routes and schedules still unpredictable, private charter jets are still a convenient alternative.
Visiting Phuket 2021
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha approved the proposal to relax and dispense quarantine measures by Phuket's private sector and business groups and to “inoculate at least 70 per cent of the island's residents to prepare for the reopening for vaccinated tourists”.
Phuket residents will therefore be prioritised in the vaccine roll-out. More than 930,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be administered before July.
This is expected to generate as much as USD $1.3 billion to the Thai economy! So if the scheme in Phuket is successful, the Thai government will roll out the same proposals in other key tourist hot spots.
The rest of Thailand is also expected to reopen for fully vaccinated visitors in October 2021.
There is a four-point strategy in place:
April 1, 2021: Quarantine for visitors will be cut from 14 days to 10 days for all arrivals, with the exception of visitors from some African countries.
May (TBC): Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Krabi, Pattaya, Phang Na, and Phuket, will reopen to fully vaccinated tourists. A seven-day quarantine will still be required for visitors.
July 1, 2021: Vaccinated tourists will be able to travel to Phuket with no quarantine.
October 1, 2021 (TBC): Quarantine requirements will be scrapped for vaccinated tourists in Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Krabi, Pattaya, Phang Na, and Phuket
2022 (TBC): Thailand plans to lift all quarantine requirements for foreign visitors
International Vaccine Passports - Ease of travel
However, the international vaccine passport agreement and negotiations with other countries to allow free travel will ultimately determine if the plans in Phuket go ahead.
Some form of International Vaccine Passports, digital certificates, health passports, or other similar measures are options countries and airlines are trialling to relaunch global travel and tourism globally.
China introduced a virus passport on Tuesday 9 March 2021, reports Al Jazeera. The digital certificate shows a user’s vaccination status and virus test results and is available for Chinese citizens via WeChat. There is also an encrypted QR code that allows authorities to obtain a traveller’s health information.
Airlines are also due to launch the deployment of the IATA Travel Pass in March 2021.
Business travellers coming from certain countries to Taiwan are also able to apply to shorten their quarantine periods from 14 days to as few as five days, confirmed by the country’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). This applies to countries such as New Zealand, Macau, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Private Charter Flights for Vaxications
There is a growing demand and adaptability for these types of Vaxications measures around Asia and the globe. These are trips people book in anticipation of being vaccinated and/or take as soon as they’ve received their vaccination.
The measures will cut down on the amount of time someone has to be on the ground but some destinations have already ensured you can mix business with pleasure by seeing out any limited quarantines or restrictions in the comfort of luxurious hotels and exclusive high-end resorts.
Private air travel is on the rise and high net worth individuals are driving private air travel. A 2021 Knight Frank Wealth Report indicates the rise in the trend globally with respondents saying they are more likely to use private aviation for travelling purposes, post-pandemic.