In response to the news of Thailand’s tourism revival, international airlines are preparing direct flights to meet the demand. As Thailand counts down to the beginning of the Phuket Sandbox project, which provides quarantine-free holidays on the island for vaccinated tourists, airlines and agents have already begun selling tickets worldwide.
According to Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, who is deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas at Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), hundreds of tour agents have already been invited to test the scheme, during a series of experimental trips held during the third quarter. TAT is also monitoring the visitor experience and the local response to new arrivals, to ensure that the Sandbox scheme is both safe and commercially successful.
“Our travel surveys in several countries found tourists still want to come to Thailand, but seek unique, quality experiences,” said Siripakorn in a recent statement, published in the Bangkok Post. “Phuket must strictly follow the plan to improve its standards this year,” he added. All passengers on the new flights will be required to obtain a certificate of entry prior to arrival in Thailand, as part of the Kingdom’s Covid-19 containment protocols.
Starting from 1st July, Thai Airways will provide new weekly flights in a triangular pattern, connecting Bangkok and Phuket with seven points of origin worldwide: Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Paris, Seoul, Singapore and either New Delhi or Tokyo (TBC). The flag carrier also intends to open a service from Taipei next month. Inbound flights from Europe will fly direct to Phuket airport before stopping over at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok for departure.
From the Middle East, Emirates will offer four weekly direct flights from Dubai to Phuket throughout July, while Qatar Airways and El Al Israel Airlines will also provide a weekly service, setting out from Doha and Tel Aviv, respectively. Europeans travelling with Qatar can connect to Doha via Stockholm, Oslo, Paris, Warsaw and Vienna.
From the United Kingdom, British Airways will start operating a schedule of three flights per day from 1st July, also transiting in Doha. Singapore Airlines already flies to Phuket; in May, the carrier doubled its frequency to two flights per week and has now expanded this schedule to offer daily direct flights to the island.
Phuket and Koh Samui enjoy a geographic advantage that makes them ideal destinations for the first reopening phase of tourism in Thailand. According to Mr Siripakorn, both islands have limited entry points, allowing them to better control the flow of tourists and administer health screening measures more efficiently. Given their popularity, both have infrastructure in place to offer enjoyable, safe and self-contained holidays in the Land of Smiles.