The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration quietly okayed the Russian Sputnik vaccine as one of the accepted vaccine brands for international travellers entering Sandbox destinations in Thailand. The vaccine had previously failed to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration for import and use in Thailand. The Department of Disease Control is now expected to approve the order from the CCSA by the end of August, moving one step closer to the ability for Russians and others from the dozens of countries who used the Sputnik vaccine to travel to Thailand soon.
Tropical Thai destinations have long seen strong visitor numbers from Russia, with Phuket seeing 1.4 million Russians before Covid-19 closed international tourism. With Thailand closed, many Russians holidayed in Turkey and Greece during the pandemic, showing they still desire to travel. The Tourism Authority of Thailand hopes that 500,000 Russian travellers will visit this year now that the Sputnik vaccine has been approved.
The approval of the Sputnik vaccine for international travellers opens the doors of Thailand not just to Russian travellers, but for millions of travellers around the world in countries that have imported or produced the vaccine. Data is conflicting, but about 50 countries have or plan to have the vaccine, with India and South Korea both contracted to produce well over 1 billion vaccines.
Countries like Vietnam, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina have all ordered the Russian Sputnik vaccines, and India, one of Thailand’s fastest-growing tourist demographics before the pandemic, ordered 250 million doses, meaning this new approval could allow millions more tourists to enter.
The TAT says they expect the first chartered flights from Russia will be in October, and the TAT plans to work with commercial airlines to get international flights into Phuket scheduled to facilitate Russian travellers coming to the Sandbox and into Thailand.
Plans are also in place for new Sandbox regions like the islands of Koh Lan, Koh Chang, and Koh Kut in Chon Buri and Trat, that could be accessed via U-Tapao Airport in Rayong, as well as international travel bubbles will also be negotiated with nearby countries like Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea.
The TAT will also work with Bangkok Airways to reinstate flights from Phuket to Samui as the 7+7 scheme was approved by the CCSA to allow international travellers to stay just 7 days in Phuket before travelling to a handful of approved destinations in Phang Nga, Krabi, and Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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