Government Says That Phuket Sandbox Is “Going Strong”

The government said Wednesday that the Phuket Sandbox scheme, aimed at revitalizing tourism and economy, has gone as expected and tourists continue arriving on the island.

However, the program’s success has been clouded by fake news about its “collapse” spreading on social media platforms.

Thanakorn Wangboonkongchan, secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office minister and spokesman for the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA), said false reports about the Sandbox scheme had spread.

He stated that rumors on social media said that Phuket had been ordered closed because Covid-19 cases had spiked beyond control.

However, Mr. Thanakorn denied those claims, saying that the Phuket Sandbox was still being implemented, and more travelers were still arriving on the island.

He urged people not to disseminate such misinformation to avoid panic.

Moreover, he said that health officials had implemented strict control measures to prevent Covid-19 from spreading in the famous tourist destination.

Tourism is a major source of income for Thailand and Phuket.

The Phuket Sandbox was designed as a primary government program to revitalize the country’s economy, which was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Since its launch in early July, at least 4,778 tourists have arrived from abroad.

Additionally, hotels with the Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus sign have seen high bookings numbers, with 176,993 room nights booked for the third quarter (July-September).

Phuket deputy governor Piyapong Chuwong and provincial health office chief Kusak Kukiatikoon also denounced the false news about the program’s disappearance.

On July 11 alone, Phuket reported 651 arrivals under the Sandbox scheme, with an average of six daily flights bringing tourists to the country.

“The Phuket Sandbox is still going strong, judging from the number of flights per day, daily arrivals of about 600, and booked room nights at more than 100,000,” the deputy governor said.

“Although some tourists were found to have Covid-19, this was not unexpected. We have prepared measures to prevent new clusters occurring,” he added.

According to Dr. Kusak, 58 Covid-19 cases have been detected in July. However, only six of them were foreign tourists under the Sandbox program, and the rest were Thais.