Foreign travellers wonder if they’ve been tricked into visiting country under lockdown

By Thai Newsroom Reporters

MANY FOREIGN VISITORS to Phuket and Koh Samui are wondering if they have been practically tricked into visiting a country where all domestic flights to and from its capital city are currently banned, remarked former finance minister Sommai Pasee yesterday (July 21).

Under the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus Model reopening programmes, enthusiastically promoted by the Thai government, a number of foreign travellers have visited the tourist islands only to get perplexed and frustrated over the fact that all domestic flights to and from Bangkok are currently suspended as part of the country’s lockdown against the aggravated pandemic situation, Sommai said.

Many were reported to have planned either to fly from Phuket or Koh Samui to Bangkok themselves after they have spent at least 14 days on the islands under the government measures against the domestic outbreak or to have other people, ranging from lovers to intimate friends and relatives, travel by air from Bangkok to Phuket or Koh Samui to meet them, the former finance minister commented. 

Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports are temporarily closed to all domestic flights for the time being, keeping those ill-informed foreigners at bay.

Sommai said many of those foreigners could not help having the feeling that they may have been fooled all along by the Thai government with its Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus Model programmes, kicked off on July 1 and July 15 respectively, only to see the airport lockdown imposed at a later date.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket Office is expecting some 19,000 fully-vaccinated foreigners to visit Phuket throughout this month under the much-heralded Phuket Sandbox programme.

However, he said, the European Union has recently removed Thailand from the White List of countries categorised as safe for world travellers, thus discouraging Europeans from coming over to the partially-lockdowned country where Covid-19 infection cases and fatalities have highly surged.


Top: Tourists on a Phuket beach before the coronavirus pandemic hit the world. Photo: Jeff~(CC BY 2.0)

Home Page: Boats moored at a Koh Samui beach. Photo: Gilbert Parker (CC BY 2.0)


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