Phuket's Plan to Welcome Vaccinated Travelers As Soon As This Fall

Phuket, Thailand

The popular Thai island of Phuket is hoping to welcome vaccinated travelers by October — but only if most of its population to be vaccinated.

The island is looking to waive the current 14-day mandatory quarantine for visitors in order to give its tourism industry a jolt, Bloomberg reported recently. The decision would require government approval.

To facilitate the proposal — entitled "Phuket First October" — the island is planning to vaccinate about 70% of its adult population using funds from more than a dozen business groups, including the Phuket Chamber of Commerce and the Phuket Tourist Association. This effort would supersede the government's vaccine distribution plans, which doesn't expect to achieve herd immunity until 2022, in an effort to reach that level of immunity faster.

The island would look to obtain vaccine shots from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., a Chinese company soon expected to be approved by the Thai regulator.

The plans come months after Thailand started welcoming tourists who agreed to stay in the country for several months, but still required a two-week quarantine for international arrivals. Under that program, travelers were permitted to stay up to 270 days, or about nine months.

However, Bloomberg noted few travelers have taken advantage of current programs in place with the mandatory quarantine being prohibitive.

"We can't wait any longer. If we have to wait, we won't survive," president of the tourist association, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, told Bloomberg. "If we miss this winter peak season, we'd have to wait another year."

Thailand isn't the only country looking to allow vaccinated passengers to revive its tourism economy. Last month, the Seychelles opened its borders to anyone who received both shots of a two-dose vaccine. And several other nations, including Iceland and Denmark, are developing a digital vaccine passport to facilitate travel for vaccinated citizens.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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