Thailand Continues Reopening Despite ‘Devastating’ New UK Red List

Thailand Continues Reopening Despite ‘Devastating’ New UK Red List

Thailand continues to expand its ‘Sandbox’ programme for fully vaccinated visitors despite the country being added to the UK’s red list in the latest update of the traffic light system.

Following the initial launch of the Phuket Sandbox from 1 July and Samui Plus from 15 July, the new Phuket Sandbox 7+7 programme allows eligible, fully vaccinated international travellers to reduce the previous 14 night mandatory stay in Phuket to just seven.

Visitors can then spend the next seven nights in either Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai, or Railay), Phang-Nga (Khao Lak or Ko Yao), or Surat Thani (Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, or Ko Tao).

Travellers wishing to travel onwards from Phuket after seven nights must obtain a ‘Transfer Form’ issued by their hotel in Phuket proving their seven-night stay plus they must show negative results from their two Covid-19 tests (conducted on day 0 and day 6 or 7 in Phuket).

The programme became active on 16 August.

Red Listed

However, Thai authorities will undoubtedly be disappointed that Thailand has been added to the UK’s red list in the latest traffic light update.

This means that only UK citizens and permanent residents will be allowed into the UK from Thailand but must undergo a mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Khun Chiravadee Khunsub, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, UK & Ireland, said: “Thailand’s move to the red list is devastating news for Thailand and its tourism industry.”

“Since 1 July Thailand started successfully welcoming international travellers under a ‘Sandbox’ initiative which allowed for a safe and controlled return to tourism in limited areas of the country.

“Since the Phuket Sandbox launched two months ago the popular tourist island has welcomed over 24,500 tourists, UK arrivals being the 2nd source market (3,186 arrivals), and only 74 ‘imported’ cases.

“Thailand’s economy depends heavily on tourism and forward bookings were looking strong with some hotels reporting being fully booked.

Ahead of Thailand’s peak travel season I hope this latest change won’t knock consumer confidence when considering Thailand as a winter sun destination because, as we’ve seen with other destinations over the last few months, it will be back on amber or green in a matter of time again.”

Virtual FAMS

Nevertheless, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is hosting a series of virtual FAM trips for agents to brush up on their knowledge of the popular holiday destination.

The link to register is and the dates are:

Experience Krabi and the Phi Phi islands

Confirmed suppliers: Zeavola, Phulay Bay, Centara, Layana and more!

  • Tuesday 7 September 11:00-12:00
  • Wednesday 8 September 11:00-12:00
  • Thursday 9 September 11:00-12:00

Experience Khao Lak and the Koh Yao islands

Confirmed suppliers: The Sarojin, Kalima, Mai Khao Lak, Devasom and more!

  • Tuesday 14 September 11:00-12:00
  • Wednesday 15 September 11:00-12:00
  • Thursday 16 September 11:00-12:00


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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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