In a surprise move, the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand has told Reuters that tourists seeking long-stay holidays in the southern resort island of Phuket will be allowed into the Province from October 1st.

The news comes with restrictions; tourists will be limited to staying in the alternative quarantine system but within a 1 kilometre radius of their hotel, giving them access to the seashore in many instances. The ‘Safe & Sealed’ proposal to allow limited tourism had already been discussed, but an announcement wasn’t expected until September..

During mandatory 14 day quarantine, each tourist will be required to pass two Covid-19 tests. After 14 days, they will be free to travel within Phuket. After a further week and another test, they’ll be allowed to travel throughout the Kingdom.

The news effectively means that Phuket will be, for a period, the gateway through which the hundreds of thousands of foreigners stranded outside Thailand since the end of March can gain access. These include foreigners who haven’t been able or eligible, up to now, to obtain certificates of entry from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok since entry requirements were widened in May, June and July.

The proposal was pushed hard this week by the Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn as officials from the Centre for Covid 19 Situation Administration were visiting Phuket. It’s understood that he received the support of the Minister of Energy, Supattanapong Punmeechaow.  Phiphat has in the last few months seen several proposals rejected by the CCSA.

The development is likely to drive a wave of tourism to Phuket from October, leading to what many foreigners are hoping for: safe and reasonable access to the country that many see as a home from home.