Phuket International Airport is ready to receive foreign tourists, according to the Minister of Transport, Saksayam Chidchob.
Authorities have been preparing the airport for weeks and initially expected to welcome a group of foreigners on the new special tourist visa last month.
They also sent mobile COVID-19 test vehicles to the airport to test all tourists upon arrival. However, flight plans were canceled at the last minute.
Now the Minister of Transport says the airport is 100% ready.
“At this stage, Phuket International Airport is 100% ready for welcoming and testing tourists arriving on the STV (Special Tourist Visa). The lab and mobile lab trucks together can test 578 tourists per day,” the minister said.
Last month, plans to host tourists traveling from China were canceled at the last minute due to a misunderstanding with tourism officials. It happened due to a list of people interested in the new visa allegedly passed off as those who had already applied and were ready to travel.
This group of foreigners has a new long-stay visa.
Sakayam says permission for travelers with the new visa to fly directly to Phuket has not yet been confirmed, although the airport is already prepared to receive international tourists.
“We have to wait for the prime minister to inspect (the airport) first to ensure its readiness and to build confidence among people,” he added.
To date, 17 hotels have been approved as alternative state facilities for quarantine. All these places are ready for tourists.
In this regard, the Minister of Transport said: “I was told that Phuket now has about 1,900 rooms in hotels to welcome tourists as alternative local quarantine venues, and the Phuket government is trying to reach 5,000 rooms within one month.”
The Thai authorities are focusing their efforts on recovering the nation’s economy through tourism. For that reason, they have created travel bubbles for tourists from areas that are not currently affected by COVID-19. Additionally, all visitors are tested and required to comply with a quarantine period.
The process of reopening the country to tourists is being carried out with great caution to avoid an increase in cases.