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Phuket welcomes first flight from Hong Kong under ‘Sandbox’ programme

Cathay Pacific weekly service adds another source market for foreign arrivals to Phuket.

Bangkok, 11 August, 2021 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like to report that Phuket has welcomed its first direct flight from Hong Kong under the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ programme that was launched on 1 July, 2021, and which has to date brought over 19,000 foreign tourists to the island.

Cathay Pacific flight CX771 with 134 passengers landed at Phuket International Airport at 10.40 Hrs. on 10 August, 2021, to a dramatic water cannon greeting and warm welcome from the Airports of Thailand (AoT) staff and TAT officials. Among the dignitaries on hand to greet passengers were TAT Phuket Office Director, Ms. Nanthasiri Ronnasiri; Phuket International Airport Director, Pilot Officer Thanee Chuangchoo, and Cathay Pacific Airways Phuket Office Chief, Mr. Amonsak Rungruangsri.

The new Cathay Pacific service – one flight per week every Tuesday – added Hong Kong to a number of points in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East from where major airlines have been flying direct to Phuket since the Phuket Sandbox programme began. This includes Thai Airways International (THAI) from Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Paris, London, and Zurich, Singapore Airlines from Singapore, Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi, Emirates from Dubai, Qatar Airways from Doha, and EL AL Israel Airlines from Tel Aviv.

Under the Phuket Sandbox programme, which signalled the beginning of Thailand’s tourism revitalisation with Phuket as the pilot destination, fully vaccinated foreign tourists can visit without the need to quarantine. However, tourists must stay at hotels certified with SHA Plus certification, which indicates that the hotel meets the safety measures to control COVID-19, and also that at least 70% of its workforce has been fully vaccinated.

From 1 July-10 August, 2021, the Phuket Sandbox has seen a total of 19,166 international arrivals. The first month of the programme recorded over 14,055 arrivals, who have generated over 829 million Baht in revenue for the local economy.

TAT expects 100,000 foreign tourists will visit Phuket in the Third Quarter 2021 (July-September) and inject some 8.9 billion Baht of revenue into the local economy.

In terms of accommodation, as of 10 August, 2021, there are 360,559 room nights booked at SHA Plus hotels for the July-September period. Of this, 190,843 nights were realised in July, while 148,116 are on the books for August and 21,600 for September.

On 15 July, 2021, Surat Thani’s Samui, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao followed Phuket in reopening to tourism with the launch of the ‘Samui Plus’ programme.

The next two destinations are set to follow within August; these being Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai and Railay Beach) and Phang-Nga (Khao Lak and Ko Yao), where fully vaccinated foreign tourists under the existing Phuket Sandbox programme will be able to visit the selected areas under a 7+7 model.

The Phuket Sandbox 7+7 model will reduce the mandatory stay in Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox programme from 14 to 7 days. Thus, tourists will be able to spend 7 nights in Phuket and then 7 nights in Krabi, Phang-Nga, or Surat Thani (Samui Plus) – the idea being to allow visits to multiple destinations during a trip to Thailand.

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The TAT International Public Relations Division works with traditional and online media channels to promote Thailand as a tourism destination for travellers worldwide.

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