Thailand reopens with Phuket Sandbox trial. Image: Pixabay

Thailand kicks off ‘Phuket Sandbox’ plan for vaccinated tourists

One of the world’s top tourist destinations, Thailand, has reopened its doors to international visitors once again.


Thailand reopens with Phuket Sandbox trial. Image: Pixabay

The most visited country in the world before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is now open to international visitors under a pilot project which uses Phuket as the point of entry.

If this project is successful, officials will use the Phuket model as a blueprint for opening nine other destinations in Thailand.

Bangkok, Chonburi, Chiang Mai, Petchaburi, Prachuap Kiri Khan, Phang Nga, Krabi, Surat Thani and Buriram may open on 1 October under the next phase of Thailand’s reopening.


For the first time in over a year, Thailand’s popular resort island of Phuket is allowing vaccinated international travellers to enter without quarantine restrictions.

On 1 July, scheduled flights started arriving at Phuket International Airport again. The first four flights arriving on Thursday brought approximately 400 vaccinated tourists to Phuket from Doha, Tel Aviv, Singapore and Abu Dhabi as part of the new “Phuket Sandbox” programme.


In an interview with CNN, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the Phuket Sandbox project was necessary to restart the country’s economy, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phuket’s reopening was reliant on efforts to vaccinate 70% of the island’s population. More than 80% of the island’s population have actually been vaccinated with at least one dose of a vaccine and about 65% are fully vaccinated (as of 30 June 30), according to Phuket’s public relations office.


The island of Phuket is Thailand’s second most popular tourist destination after Bangkok. Extended travel bans and entry restrictions have caused economic hardship for Phuket, which generated more than 470 billion baht (R210 billion) in revenue for 2019, thanks to the arrival of 10 million tourists.

“In 2019, we (Thailand) had revenue from both domestic and international tourism at 3 trillion baht (R1.35 trillion) but in 2020 it shrank to 800 billion baht (R360 billion),” Phipat said.

Phiphat estimates that about 100 000 international tourists will arrive in Phuket during the first three months of the reopening. He expects this to generate around 9 billion baht (R4 billion) in revenue.


Visitors from pre-approved countries are permitted to enter Phuket and are required to stay at an accredited hotel for 14 days before they can travel elsewhere in Thailand.

Visitors must apply for a Certificate of Entry before travelling to Thailand. They will also need to provide proof of travel insurance to the value of $100 000 (R1.4 million) , that also covers COVID-19 treatment.

A negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure and a certificate of vaccination against Covid-19 with an approved vaccine – administered no less than 14 days before their travel date, are also required.


On arrival in Phuket travellers will go through screening checkpoints at the airport, and will be subjected to a Covid-19 swab test. They will have to wait for the results at their hotel before they are permitted to travel freely on the island. On day seven of their visit, they’ll be required to undergo a second Covid-19 test.

A full list of requirements can be found here.