All eyes are on Phuket as the first South-East Asian holiday destination opens up to fully vaccinated leisure travel this July. This is a welcome sign to the region that has suffered closures and lockdowns for well over 18 months, with the devastating impact felt most acutely by the most vulnerable in the region.
The volume of passengers and flights heading into Phuket is expected to increase gradually over the coming weeks, starting from July 1. Vaccinated leisure travellers from the Middle East and Europe will be among the first to take advantage of these open skies and head to Phuket to enjoy the tropical island’s hospitality, beaches, marine adventures, culture and culinary treats.
Phuket’s monsoon season will peak in August and last until October; however, a little bit of rain is not going to dampen the spirits of holiday goers who have been facing some form of lockdown in their home countries for well over a year.
Flying direct to Phuket from July 2021
Thai Airways, Emirates, El Al Israel Airlines, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and British Airways are just some airlines that have announced direct flights to Phuket International Airport.
From July 2, Thai Airways is offering direct flights from Paris, Frankfurt, Zurich, London and Copenhagen to Phuket with one returning flight for each route per week. Inbound flights from Europe will fly directly to Phuket International Airport before stopping over at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok to depart to Europe.
The Thai flag carrier also plans routes from Hong Kong, Seoul and Taipei to Phuket from July.
Flying from the Middle East & Europe to Phuket
Qatar Airways has announced four weekly direct flights from Doha to Phuket beginning on July 1, operating a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with 22 Business Class and 232 Economy Class seats on flight QR 840 / QR 841. This will allow visitors from Stockholm, Oslo, Paris, Warsaw and Vienna to travel to Phuket via Doha on Qatar Airways in cooperation with British Airways.
Etihad Airways has confirmed it will begin direct flights three times a week from Abu Dhabi to Phuket from July 1, deploying a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with Economy space and Neighbour-free seating options.
Emirates has announced it will resume daily direct services between Dubai and Phuket from July 2 2021, with flight EK378 deploying a Boeing 777-300ER in a three-class configuration offering services in First, Business and Economy class.
El Al Israel Airlines is starting a weekly direct flight between Tel Aviv to Phuket from July 1, operating a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on flight LY87 / LY88 in Economy, Premium and Business class configuration.
Phuket’s first international visitors in July
Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said recently that foreign tourists arriving in Phuket on July 7 are from Israel, while visitors from the United States will fly in on July 9.
Children aged under six who come with their fully vaccinated parents will be allowed into Phuket, while children between six and 18 years old will have to undergo Covid-19 testing upon arrival at Phuket International Airport, said Danucha Pichayanan, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council.
Fully vaccinated tourists must stay at hotels that have Safety & Health Administration Plus hygiene standards certification, he said, adding they will still be required to use contact tracing apps during their stay in the kingdom.
Starting from July 1, Phuket will waive quarantine requirements for foreign tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 under the “Phuket Tourism Sandbox” model. However, as a precaution, tourists will have to remain on the island for 14 days (previously seven days) during the first month of reopening before they are allowed to move on to other destinations in Thailand.
Countries that are a no-show to Phuket’s leisure travel opening
Singapore Airlines flies directly between the city-state to Phuket, however it is not clear as on date if Singapore residents will be allowed to travel for leisure from July onwards.
China, Thailand’s largest tourism market continues to impose an outbound travel ban on its citizens. Australia has declared itself a hermit nation for the rest of 2021 and well into 2022. Residents from the Indian subcontinent (India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal) are currently not allowed entry to Thailand. ◼