Thailand is now welcoming travellers from any country in the world to the sandbox programme.
The country has announced that the fully vaccinated tourists, globe-trotters and itinerants from any country can now enjoy holidays to the popular tourist haven Phuket. The development comes under tweaks to a struggling quarantine-free travel scheme.
The coronavirus-hit Thai tourism industry has been on its knees because of rounds of restrictions and lockdowns, slashing visitor numbers from 40 million in 2019 to a mere trickle over the past two years.
The kingdom launched a “sandbox” scheme in July, which allowed fully vaccinated travellers from countries considered low-to-medium risk to roam free on the popular beach island for a fortnight, and then afterwards travel to the mainland without quarantine.
Last week, authorities cut the required stay to a week, in line with national changes to quarantine rules.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand announced late Friday that the scheme had been broadened from the around 80 countries already eligible.
“This means Thailand is now welcoming travellers from any country in the world to the sandbox programme,” it said in a statement.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said unvaccinated children would be able to travel with their vaccinated parents.
Thai authorities hope to reopen five other destinations, including capital Bangkok, using the sandbox model from the start of November, followed by 20 more locations in December once vaccination rates increase.
However, travel advice from other countries discouraging would-be tourists could hamper Thailand’s plans to reboot the industry.
Britain and the US have issued travel warnings as the country grapples with a deadly third wave of the virus and low vaccination rates.