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The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said it allows fully vaccinated international travelers to visit Phuket, one of Thailand’s largest islands. The idea of ââthe “Phuket Sandbox” (as it is called) also allows visitors to travel to other parts of Thailand after spending 7 days in Phuket. While Phuket‘s population is much larger than that of the Caymans, it has two things in common: it is small (around 200 square miles), and tourism is one of its economic mainstays. It is therefore interesting to examine Phuket and its idea of ââa âSandboxâ to see how its demands for reopening the borders compare to the Cayman Islands and if there are any lessons to be learned from the Phuket Sandbox experience.
Before the arrival
In order for a tourist to enter Phuket, he must meet the following conditions:
- A passport valid for at least 6 months
- Have stayed in countries / territories approved by the Thai Center for the Administration of the COVID-19 Situation (CCSA) for 21 days or more
- Has been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the Thai Ministry of Public Health or the World Health Organization. Those who have recovered from COVID-19 should also be fully immunized at least 14 days before travel
- Have booked and purchased round trip air travel
- Have booked and paid for accommodation for at least 14 nights including at least 7 nights in Phuket
- Have booked and paid for RT-PCR tests that cover the entire stay in Thailand
- Have purchased medical insurance with COVID-19 treatment coverage of at least $ 100,000.
- Have tested negative for COVID-19 with a laboratory result by an RT-PCR method no more than 72 hours before travel.
Once a person meets the above conditions, they can visit a website and apply for an entry certificate, which can then be used to travel to different parts of Thailand.
When children under the age of 18 travel, they are not required to be vaccinated if traveling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians, but must have a medical certificate with a laboratory result by an RT-PCR method indicating that COVID-19 is not detected more than 72 hours before their travel date.
Arrival at Phuket airport
The TAT said that upon arrival at Phuket airport, travelers will undergo a health check, including a PCR test and normal immigration procedures. Travelers will then proceed to government-certified hotels and wait for their test results, which are available on the first day of arrival.
Note that hotels certified by the Royal Thai Government in Phuket are those that meet security measures to control COVID-19 and where at least 70% of their workforce has been fully vaccinated.
During the tourist’s stay
Once tourists have received their negative test (they must wait in their hotel room for the test results), they can move around Phuket freely, as long as precautions are observed, including social distancing, hand washing , temperature controls and the wearing of masks in public areas or in vehicles with two or more people.
The TAT also recommends that tourists use certified transport and tourism service providers, that is, those who take security measures to control COVID-19.
Before traveling to Phuket, travelers should download an âalertâ app, which should be kept at all times while traveling in Thailand.
As of September 28, 2021, the total number of cases across Thailand was 1,581,415, with around 7% receiving medical treatment and around 91% of positive cases have recovered.
From July 1 to September 27, 2021, 37,576 people arrived in Phuket and 37,463 tested negative.
On September 27, 2021, 99 people arrived in Phuket and there were no infected people among those arrivals.
Course for Caymans
I think Cayman should consider some things from the Phuket model and adapt others as follows:
- Continued requirement for negative COVID-19 testing before travel
- Have prepaid accommodation for the entire stay
- Removal of quarantine requirements for vaccinated passengers
- Allow same day PCR testing
- Encourage passengers to have medical insurance with COVID-19 treatment coverage
- No requirement for unvaccinated children under 18 to be vaccinated as long as they have completed a PCR test and are traveling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians
- Certify hotels, tour operators and other establishments as having security measures to control COVID-19 or require these establishments to self-certify (with heavy penalties to be applied if the self-certification is distorted, misleading or fraudulent)
- Instead of mandatory vaccinations for existing work permit holders, currently on the island, require all companies to perform weekly PCR testing or encourage a daily self-test culture, in each case with same-day PCR results
The Cayman Islands government could also ask airlines to take responsibility for ensuring that, considering all passenger connections, passengers are traveling from a list of approved countries. Airlines may accept penalties for failure to perform appropriate checks and for failure.
Additionally, upon arrival, each passenger’s experience should be smooth, orderly and prompt, without any form of additional and intrusive inspection beyond normal immigration intelligence checks for illegal goods or people. disembarking illegally.
If stakeholders (including inbound tourists) implement and comply with COVID-19 security measures, everyone will feel like they are having a safe experience. If everyone cooperates, then hospitality professionals could start to thrive again, of course with proper safety procedures in place to ensure people’s health remains the top priority.