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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawCould Bangkok Get Quarantine-Free "Sandbox" Status?

Could Bangkok Get Quarantine-Free "Sandbox" Status?

Transcript of the above video:

At the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the notion of Bangkok gaining "Sandbox" status. What is "Sandbox" status? Well this was discussed in Phase 3 of this plan they are implementing to reduce quarantines, and slowly lift quarantine in Thailand. Basically from October onward, this has been the discussion. Again, none of this has been implemented or set in stone so take all of this as fluid. Long story short, the "Sandbox" notion is there are areas where tourists can come in without the need to quarantine and then they just stay in these areas. It is to improve tourism but then they also apparently are trying to keep them in these geographic regions or zones. How exactly that is going to work from a practical standpoint remains to be seen. 

That said, a recent article from the Bangkok Post print edition, Tuesday March 30th, 2021. The article is titled: Operators Call for "Sandbox" Scheme to Include Bangkok. Since the inception of the discussion of Phuket going to basically a quarantine free status beginning in July, that is the discussion underway right now, and again it is not implemented, we have not seen this set in stone and we have seen things change throughout this past year with respect to this COVID response, so again take certain things that are said with a grain of salt. I had always kind of thought look I don't know how one area of the country will be allowed to have tourists everywhere and then other areas of the country won't be able to have that. I would kind of see where you have some political blowback from that if nothing else. 

In any event, again from Bangkok Post, quoting directly from this article which again is Operators Call for "Sandbox" Scheme to Include Bangkok. Quoting directly: "Bangkok should be included in the tourism Sandbox scheme for October that allows vaccinated visitors to enter without quarantine or else Thailand will miss its goal of 6.5 million foreign tourists this year, say tourism operators. Vichit Prakobgosol, Vice President of the Tourism Council of Thailand said Bangkok is a strategic tourism hub as 90% of tourists who visit Pattaya have to start in the capital." Quoting further: "TCT predicted the number of tourists visiting those six destinations," (and we have discussed this at length, there are six destinations-Koh Samui, Krabi, Phangnga, Pattaya and Chiang Mai and they have also discussed Phuket as well). Again quoting again: "TCT predicted the number of tourists visiting those six destinations to total 3 million contributing 156 billion Baht of which 2 million tourists generating 105 billion Baht will come from Phuket."

Again, I am always a little bit hesitant, it is like as we would say back home "counting your chickens before they hatch". We haven't seen tourists show up; we haven't seen this money come in; we haven't seen these plans actually implemented; a lot of this is speculation on the part of government officials or people in the tourism space. But the thing that I find interesting is the feasibility of allowing one region to be open for business for tourism while having another region in the country that just isn't. I am not going to get into why they are doing that, I don't know frankly, but it does seem odd and it does seem like something that could cause some political strife, some political disagreement with respect to people from these different regions. I can see people in the tourism space in Bangkok saying "hey, why is Phuket seemingly reaping a windfall in tourism and Pattaya and Bangkok are left in the cold?" I can see that being discussed.

Again, how this plays out remains to be seen but it would not shock me to see Bangkok being given the "Sandbox" label as well, some time sooner rather than later.