Thailand: Tourism leaders have urged European governments to recognise and grant Phuket “green” destination status.
The Phuket Sandbox initiative launched on 1 July 2021 and enables fully-vaccinated international travellers to fly directly to the island and stay quarantine-free. Hotels need to ensure that 70 per cent of the staff have received vaccines.
At the Phuket Sandbox Summit, international governments have since been called on to grant “green” status to the region in order for the Sandbox to succeed.
KP Ho, executive chairman of Banyan Tree Group, argued that the island has the potential to lead the global tourism recovery. He said: “What’s really important is that EU countries – the national governments, spurred on by travel agents, the media and other people – recognise that it’s necessary to disengage the perception of Phuket from the rest of Thailand. It should be a situation where Thailand could be a red alert zone but the island could be a green zone. It could be possible to create a series of Sandboxes in other destinations, such as Koh Samui (which recently launched Samui Plus), Bali and Phu Quoc. As long as that Sandbox is well-organised, as it is in Phuket, it should be separated from the rest of the country.” Ho’s full address can be watched here.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand supported the motion. Deputy governor for international marketing, Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americas, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, said: “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 Sandbox; it is safe and we will never compromise anyone’s safety.”
Vice governor of Phuket, Piyapong Choowong, added: “I would like to confirm we support the Sandbox. We are making sure people on the island and all visitors are safe so we can run the Sandbox smoothly and continue to welcome more tourists.”
Presenting the most up-to-date data, C9 Hotelworks managing director, Bill Barnett, said: “There is a lot at stake but what is clear is that the Sandbox is alive and well, and it’s working.”
The Phuket Sandbox Summit was held at Laguna Phuket, attended by:
- Phuket vice governor, Piyapong Choowong
- Tourism Authority of Thailand deputy governor, Siripakorn Chaewsamoot
- Banyan Tree Group executive chairman, KP Ho
- Laguna Phuket managing director, Ravi Chandran
- Phuket city development CEO, Nipon Aekwanich
- British Honorary Consul, Martin Carpenter
- Honorary Consul of Germany, Anette Jiminez Höchstetter
- Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Seven Smulders
- S Hotels and Resorts SVP Operations, Stefano Alberto Ruzza
- Dusit Hotels and Resorts vice president sales, Prachoom Tantiprasertsuk
- Singapore Airlines station manager Phuket, Louis Tan
- Emirates Airlines airport services manager, Thanakorn Srihamart
- Qatar Airways airport services manager, Warunee Saiboonjun
- C9 Hotelworks managing director, Bill Barnett
- Delivering Asia Communications CEO, David Johnson