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Should the Phuket Sandbox be Cancelled?

It’s a question that is brought up a lot in the comment section of this show. It has divided people’s opinions with some being in favor of it and others being very much against it.

The people who are against it are not in favor of seeing Phuket fail or people suffer but rather question whether it’s the right time to implement such a project.

As the world reopens to travel, Phuket officials have created a program that is cumbersome at best and restrictive, and expensive at its worst. In Europe being vaccinated means being able to travel to these countries and being welcomed with open arms. Travel is easy – restrictions are minimal – and you can do what you like when you get there – have a pint, stay out late, fly on an airplane, take a bus, go to a club, not wear a mask if you wish, the list is endless. In Phuket – well you can’t do any of that! You’ll be prosecuted and fined for not wearing a mask and well a drink with dinner is currently outlawed.

Phuket officials and the Tourism Authority of Thailand have created a program that generally only benefits a few of the top hotel brands on the island. In truth, the claim lots of people are being employed from this is simply not true. Hotels are mainly operating on the skeleton crews they’ve had for the last year because frankly, they can’t afford to hire more staff and when they do hire it's part-time with no guarantee of future work.

If the plan was to reopen to show international travel was safe for vaccinated travelers then maybe it’s a win for them but maybe, but for travelers to Thailand that comes with a heavy cost. 3 RT PCR tests, confined to an island for 14 days, special hotels, special transportation, checking in every day at the hotel, being tracked and the black cloud hanging over your head that if you test positive for COVID during your time here - your holiday is over and it's 14 days in a field prison.

The TAT has announced that they will begin a marketing campaign to try woooo travelers to Phuket. The TAT conveniently forgets to mention to travelers all the small print – long application proves to get a COE, insurance, multiple covid testing, approved hotels only, and as I said previously the dreaded testing positive scenario.

But My question is – for what? Why waste this marketing money on something that is not sustainable. This Phuket model is NOT the future of travel. The future of travel will be for vaccinated travelers with minimal testing and freedom to do what they want. Is the Phuket Sandbox truly what REAL tourists want? Absolutely NOT is the answer to that question.

However - This program worked for some – expats wishing to return, people with wives, girlfriends’ kids, etc., people wishing to return home to be vaccinated and then come back. I’ve even considered using it myself, but I know better. But now that Phuket has been sealed and getting off the island is nearly as hard as getting on it – what’s the point? Your Thai loved ones can no longer come to see you. Thai people and expats are banned from the island currently.

The Prime Minister announced back in late June that Thailand will fully reopen within 120 days. Was this the truth or just bullshit coming from his mouth?

The truth is if it was the plan then why bother with the Phuket Sandbox at all. Wouldn’t it have been better to focus on vaccinations around the country, investing in minimal systems to reopen and ensure that you were ready to open without all this BS?

The problem is the TAT believes that Thailand is the center of the universe when it comes to travel and tourism. Proof of this is the fact they think foreign governments will look at Phuket separately than Thailand when issuing travel alerts. They believe governments give a shit when we all know they don't. They are basking in past glories without realizing that the world has moved on. The numbers of 2019 are done and won’t be repeated for a long time.

The people I feel most for are the Thai people and in particular Phuket people. They were sold all this by these guys, and many believed it. They are slowly wishing they could return what they bought from the TAT and their governor.

No one told them that they would be trapped on the island, indefinitely nor was it mentioned the airport and all travel companies would basically be closed and shut down. They never mentioned that if you had a small criminal conviction for something you did as a youth for example you would be barred from entering the island! And all this for 254 passengers who arrived internationally yesterday!

So back to the question – should it be canceled – yes it should – will it be canceled – absolutely not and the reason being is TAT and the governor of Phuket have invested too much and gone too far down the rabbit hole to make a u-turn and correct course.

The future of international travel is not this.


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