Phuket is gearing up to receive its first group of tourists from China who are expected to arrive next week under the Special Tourist Visa (STV) scheme.
In the initial stage of reopening, the first flight, scheduled to land on Oct 8, is expected to carry 120 tourists from Guangzhou.
The visitors will stay in alternative state quarantine for 14 days as part of disease control measures.
Phuket governor Narong Woonsiew said on Tuesday that all authorities concerned are ready to welcome the visitors with Covid-19 labs, supplied by the Department of Communicable Disease Control, now installed at Phuket airport. He said agencies concerned will meet today to rehearse all the procedures, including the screening and testing of tourists.
Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the provincial health officials, said the public health system is ready with 1,222 rooms from nine hotels having passed inspection and selected as alternative state quarantine venues.
A total of 73 hotels with more than 5,800 rooms have applied to be considered as alternative quarantine facilities, he said.
Mr Thanit said about 5,000 rooms would then be needed to accommodate the tourists under the STV scheme, in which the number of tourists is limited at 100 per flight, with no more than three flights per week, he said.
Based on the province’s Covid-19 screening process, the Foreign Ministry and airlines are required to provide information about the visitors before their arrival, he said.
Passengers who do not pass health screening and are classified as Patients under Investigation (PUI) will be referred to designated hospitals. Those who are clear to enter alternative quarantine facilities will be directly transported to the venues after immigration procedures. Visitors will also be tested in quarantine.
Gen Natthapon Nakpanich, head of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s (CCSA) panel on the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, said on Tuesday the STV scheme will first be introduced on the resort islands of Phuket and Samui.
He said the first group of foreign arrivals is considered a low-risk group because there have been no new Covid-19 cases in Guangzhou for an extended period.
Gen Natthapon said the number of tourists will be limited to 300 per week during the first phase and the scheme will be assessed to see if numbers can be increased.
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