Newly arrived foreign tourists on the Thai island of Phuket were able to roam free without quarantine on Friday which is for the first time in more than a year as Thailand introduced a special programme for visitors on the Island.
Tourists swam in a hotel pool and explored places after receiving Covid-19 test results within 24 hours of arrival.
The ‘Phuket Sandbox’ initiative allows free movement on the island for fully vaccinated tourists, with no quarantine required, although masks are required in most public places.
While five-star hotels and restaurants welcome tourists, street vendors are mostly ignored and they say that they are not benefited from the plan as tourists frequently visit large hotels.
Thailand lost about $50 billion in tourism revenue last year when foreign arrivals plunged 83% and Phuket was hit hard due to the lockdowns where many people suffered job losses and business closures.
Millions of people visited Phuket every year before the pandemic and the government and tourism industry hope the reopening will help save its battered economy.