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Etihad lands in Thailand as Phuket reopens for tourists

Under the Phuket Sandbox initiative, fully vaccinated visitors from select countries are now welcome

Etihad Airways was the first commercial aircraft to touch down on the holiday island as it reopened to international visitors.

Phuket is the first region in Thailand to begin welcoming tourists again. Opening under an initiative dubbed ‘Phuket Sandbox’, the holiday hotspot now allows fully vaccinated visitors from countries deemed low-risk to travel to the island without quarantine for non-essential reasons. Flights from the UAE, Qatar, Israel and Singapore are all now flying into Phuket.

The reopening of Thailand’s largest island comes amid a rise in Covid-19 case numbers across the country, with many infections attributed to the Delta variant. Despite this, case numbers in Phuket remain low. The island authorities have been working hard to vaccinate residents and 70% of its population has received at least one dose of a vaccine.

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Vaccinated travellers from eligible countries can now holiday in Phuket if they can provide proof of their vaccination status and a negative Covid-19 test certificate. Tourists must also have valid insurance to cover the cost of treatment if they contract Covid-19 while in Thailand.

Covid-19 restrictions remain in place in Phuket, with all travellers having to wear face masks in public and follow social distancing rules, but unlike the rest of the country where a 14-day hotel quarantine policy is in place, visitors to Phuket can enjoy the island’s beaches, restaurants, cafes and hotels.

The rest of Thailand remains closed to international travellers. However, once tourists spend 14 days in Phuket, they may enter other parts of the country.

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