Three more Thai islands are now open to visitors who have been vaccinated.
Despite a statewide spike in Covid-19 cases driven by the Delta type, three more Thai islands opened to vaccinated foreign tourists on Thursday.
Visitors were welcomed on the islands of Samui, Tao, and Phangan as part of the kingdom’s effort to rebuild its devastated tourism industry.
Thailand’s “sandbox” program began on July 1, allowing vaccinated visitors to visit Phuket Island. Tourists are not required to stay in a hotel but are prohibited from leaving Phuket for two weeks.
Tourists must remain at an approved hotel on Samui for a week and can leave on day four, according to Thursday’s expansion.
After their first week, they must submit a negative Covid-19 test before being allowed to travel to Tao or Phangan.
The rest of the country is battling to contain infections caused by the Delta type, which currently accounts for roughly 80% of all cases, according to authorities.
Hotspot for viruses There are new restrictions in place in Bangkok and nine provinces, including a nighttime curfew and a ban on meetings of more than five individuals.
On Thursday, Thailand recorded nearly 9,200 new infections and a daily high of 98 deaths.
Since its reopening, Phuket has received 5,000 foreign visitors, 10 of whom have tested positive for Covid-19.
Authorities do not anticipate a large flood of tourists to Samui and the other two islands right now.
Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, head of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, described the start of the “Samui Plus” initiative on Thursday as a “soft opening.”
He said that 75% of the people on the three islands had been vaccinated.
“It is believed that as tourists learn the norms and procedures, arrivals would improve. Ratchaporn told AFP that some laws and regulations could be amended after that.
“We don’t want to rush (Samui Plus),” said the group.
Thailand’s economy is suffering its worst performance since the Asian financial crisis of 1997, with tourism accounting for one fifth of the country’s national GDP.
Tourism was worth $918 million to Samui before the epidemic, according to Ratchaporn, but the virus reduced revenue to $88 million last year.