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First flight from Hong Kong arrives in Phuket under Sandbox scheme

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The Thai resort island of Phuket has welcomed its first direct flight from Hong Kong under the Sandbox programme, with 134 passengers arriving at Phuket International Airport via Cathay Pacific flight CX771 on Tuesday (August 10).

The passengers landed to a dramatic water cannon greeting and warm welcome from the Airports of Thailand staff and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) officials.

Cathay Pacific weekly service adds another source market for foreign arrivals to Phuket; Kata Beach in Phuket pictured

The weekly Cathay Pacific service which operates every Tuesday added Hong Kong to a number of points in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East from where major airlines have been flying direct to Phuket since the Phuket Sandbox programme began. This includes Thai Airways International from Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Paris, London, and Zurich; Singapore Airlines from Singapore; Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi; Emirates from Dubai; Qatar Airways from Doha; and EL AL Israel Airlines from Tel Aviv.

Under the Phuket Sandbox programme, which signalled the beginning of Thailand’s tourism revitalisation with Phuket as the pilot destination, fully vaccinated foreign tourists can visit without the need to quarantine. However, tourists must stay at hotels certified with SHA Plus certification, which indicates that the hotel meets the Covid-19 safety standards, and also that at least 70 per cent of its workforce has been fully vaccinated.

From July 1 to August 10, the Phuket Sandbox has seen a total of 19,166 international arrivals. The first month of the programme recorded more than 14,055 arrivals, generating over 829 million baht (US$24.8 million) in revenue for the local economy.

TAT expects 100,000 foreign tourists will visit Phuket in 3Q2021 (July-September) and inject some 8.9 billion baht of revenue into the local economy.

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