The “Samui Plus” model kicks off today (July 15th), welcoming fully vaccinated foreign tourists, just two weeks after the initial Phuket “sandbox” tourism project was launched. The first 20 tourists are expected to arrive on Samui Island today.

The once bustling atmosphere on Samui’s Chaweng Beach remains quiet, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many locals believe, however, that the “Samui Plus” reopening model will begin the revival of the tourism based local economy.

President of the Samui Tourism Promotion Association, Ratchaporn Poonsawat, expects more tourists to visit the island later in the year, if the COVID-19 situation eases.

The “Samui Plus” model welcomes fully vaccinated foreign tourists onto the island. They will get swab test at the airport on arrival and will have to enter quarantine at pre-booked “SHA+” certified hotels.

For the first seven days, tourists must remain in their hotel’s compound, before their second swab test. For the second week of their stay, they can travel around Samui, Phang Ngan and Tao islands, while continuing to stay at “SHA+” certified venues.

So far, 17 hotels in the “Samui Plus” project are “SHA+” certified, with almost 500 rooms available. The initiative is helping 10% of the hospitality sector’s workforce to return to work.


Thailand’s Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) reports that the Phuket “sandbox” scheme, aimed at revitalizing the economy and tourism, is going well, but its success has been marred by “fake news” on social media of its imminent collapse.

CESA spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said false reports were being disseminated on social media claiming that Phuket has been ordered to close because COVID-19 spread is out of control.

He said this is not true. The Phuket “sandbox” program is still being implemented, with tourists continuing to arrive, and he asked people not to share such misinformation as it could cause alarm. Health measures are also being strictly implemented to prevent COVID-19 spreading in the province.

According to Phuket authorities, the Phuket Sandbox is still going strong, judging from the number of flights per day, daily arrivals of about 600, and booked room nights at more than 100,000.