A panel chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha approved the proposal by Phuket’s private sector and business groups to inoculate at least 70 per cent of the island’s residents to prepare for the reopening for vaccinated tourists, according to Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
The government plans to test the reopening plan in Phuket, before expanding to other key tourist hotspots such as Koh Samui to help restart the tourism industry, which has contributed to one-fifth of the economy before the pandemic.
Phuket residents to be prioritised in vaccine rollout
Phuket will reopen three months earlier than the rest of the country, which is expected to welcome vaccinated visitors in October. Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, President of the island’s tourist association, said Phuket residents will also be prioritised in the vaccine rollout, with more than 930,000 doses expected to be administered before the reopening.
An early reopening could potentially add more than 30 billion baht (US$963 million) to the economy, but its success hinges on the international vaccine passport agreements and negotiations with other countries to allow free travel, Bhummikitti added.