The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) reported that Phuket has welcomed its first direct flight from Hong Kong under the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ programme that was launched on 1 July 2021, and which has to date brought over 19,000 foreign tourists to the island.
Cathay Pacific flight CX771 with 134 passengers landed at Phuket International Airport at 10.40 Hrs. on 10 August 2021, to a dramatic water cannon greeting and warm welcome from the Airports of Thailand (AoT) staff and TAT officials. Among the dignitaries on hand to greet passengers were TAT Phuket Office Director, Ms. Nanthasiri Ronnasiri; Phuket International Airport Director, Pilot Officer Thanee Chuangchoo, and Cathay Pacific Airways Phuket Office Chief, Mr. Amonsak Rungruangsri.
The new Cathay Pacific service – one flight per week every Tuesday – added Hong Kong to a number of points in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East from where major airlines have been flying direct to Phuket since Phuket Sandbox programme began. This includes Thai Airways International (THAI) from Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Paris, London, and Zurich, Singapore Airlines from Singapore, Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi, Emirates from Dubai, Qatar Airways from Doha, and EL AL Israel Airlines from Tel Aviv.
Under the Phuket Sandbox programme, which signalled the beginning of Thailand’s tourism revitalisation with Phuket as the pilot destination, fully vaccinated foreign tourists can visit without the need to quarantine. However, tourists must stay at hotels certified with SHA Plus certification, which indicates that the hotel meets the safety measures to control COVID-19, and also that at least 70% of its workforce has been fully vaccinated.
From 1 July-10 August 2021, the Phuket Sandbox has seen a total of 19,166 international arrivals. The first month of the programme recorded over 14,055 arrivals, who have generated over 829 million Baht in revenue for the local economy.
TAT expects 100,000 foreign tourists will visit Phuket in the Third Quarter 2021 (July-September) and inject some 8.9 billion Baht of revenue into the local economy.
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