The Phuket Sandbox has been lauded as a success and derided as a failure, but officials have released some raw data over the past few days that indicates the programme falls somewhere in between. Immigration and the Tourism Authority of Thailand have reported on total incoming travellers and their opinions, and the Economics Tourism and Sports Division of the Tourism and Sports Ministry calculated revenue generated by the Phuket Sandbox.
Immigration has released official arrival numbers stating that since the Phuket Sandbox launched on July 1, a total of 28,197 international travellers have arrived on the island. About one-third of those travellers, 10,492, have now returned to their home countries or otherwise left Thailand. 4,963 people are still in Phuket, while 12,742 have travelled off the island to other provinces around Thailand.
The travellers came from around the world, but the largest single demographic was returning Thai people with 3,794 Thai nationals entering through the Phuket Sandbox. Americans came in a close second, with 3,721 arrivals, just 72 less than the Thai figures. The United Kingdom saw 3,470 travellers arriving in Thailand, while 3,153 Israelis arrived, 2,262 people from France, and 2,247 Germans.
Other originating countries that have been popular with the Sandbox are the United Arab Emirates with over 800 visitors, Switzerland and the Netherlands with over 500, and Australia and China with over 400 travellers.
And those travellers are spending money, giving a much-needed kick to Thailand’s tourism economy. Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew reported official figures of 1.634 billion baht generated over the 2 months of the Sandbox. Accommodation revenue made up 565 million baht with over 366,000 room nights booked.
376 million baht was reported to be spent on goods and services and another 350 million baht was spent on food and drinks. Medical and health services made up another 229 million baht of revenue was generated by the 28,000 visitors.
The 28,000 figure puts into doubt the likelihood that Phuket will reach the 100,000 arrivals originally predicted for the third quarter with only one month to go. The governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand attributed this shortfall to the rise of Covid-19 in Thailand. Several countries around the world placed Thailand on their warning lists or red zones, with the UK requiring those returning from Thailand to stay in a quarantine hotel on their own dime. And after 14 days in the Phuket Sandbox, more harsh restrictions around the country are dissuading people from coming to Thailand.
But while Covid-19 numbers have been high throughout Thailand, and setting record numbers in Phuket, only 88 of the 28,ooo travellers in the Sandbox program have been diagnosed with Covid-19, an impressively low figure. And tourists surveyed expressed general satisfaction, with a TAT survey showing 80% of travellers satisfied with the hospitality and 85% saying they were happy with the SHA+ accommodations.
Sandbox travellers have also reported satisfaction with the SHA+ airport shuttle, the overall quality of service at the Phuket Airport, and the health screening process when travellers arrive in Thailand.
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