Oh sweet Thailand, how we long to be by your side! The rich culture, the glistening beaches, the delicious food – we’re daydreaming of it all! And even though current travel restrictions are dampening the spirits of South African travel enthusiasts, our bucket list shouldn’t have to suffer as a result.
The ‘perfect holiday’ runs deeper than stunning scenery and amenities like no other, but includes an extremely important factor to seal the deal of that dream vacay – the safety of the guests.
Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Chiravadee Khunsub prioritises the aspect of safety by explaining that “We’ve made it our mission to develop practical options for tourists to safely visit our beautiful shores again, and so far, we are seeing great interest, particularly among the local SA market.
“South Africans looking to once again dip their toes into the wonders of international travel should definitely consider Thailand for the foreseeable future.”
This exciting prospect is part of Thailand’s Phuket Sandbox plan, which kicked off on July 1 2021, and allows travellers from low and medium risk countries to enter Thailand without quarantine. Travellers must, however, be fully vaccinated and comply with Covid-19 testing, mask and distancing regulations.
“Phuket became the first Thai province to operate in this manner – with great results,” says Khunsub. And if that isn’t enough to get you excited then maybe this will: witnessing the likes of sea otters, pods of dolphins and bird species during the “quieter tourism times” – could anything be more sublime?
The success of the Phuket Sandbox is largely due to the fact that Phuket is an island, meaning that it’s easier to control, observe and contain any outbreaks, while around “70% of the island’s approximately 450,000 residents have received at least one vaccine dose,” Khunsub adds. In the same vein, the hospitality industry has reported that all workers in restaurants, hotels, spas and resorts have been fully vaccinated.
“Although South Africa remains a high-risk country with regards to travel and cannot fully benefit from our Phuket Sandbox initiative right now, we are hopeful that things will improve soon. We’d like prospective travellers to know that we are keeping both our visitors’ and locals’ health and safety a top priority.
“The wait may seem long for South Africans wanting to travel right now, but there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. It won’t be long before you’re lounging on our luxurious white-sand beaches, jet skiing off the coast and enjoying warm evenings eating out at the amazing selection of restaurants that offer sumptuous dining options,” concludes Khunsub.
Following the quick success of the Phuket Sandbox, three more Thai islands reopened on July 15 including Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao – talk about having so much to look forward to!