Vacation exchange company RCI rejoices with affiliated resorts in Phuket on the return of international leisure travel in view of the Phuket Sandbox reopening.
Under the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ program introduced by Tourism Authority of Thailand; fully vaccinated foreign travelers can visit Phuket without quarantine requirements starting July 1.
RCI affiliated resorts including Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket, Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort Phuket and Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay have been certified SHA+, a certification awarded to hotel operators and businesses who not only meet the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) standards, but also have at least 70% of their staff vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Our members have been scheduling their vacations far ahead in hopes of travelling as soon as flights and international borders reopen,” said Paul Mulcahy, Managing Director for RCI APAC, India & EMEA. “It is great to see that most of our affiliated properties in Phuket are SHA+ certified and we are working closely together with them to fulfill our members’ travel needs.”
“It is exciting to have the borders to Phuket open again to welcome our international guests,” said Dominic Egger, General Manager for Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay. “It has been a difficult time for our island -- and Thailand as a whole -- and we are eagerly but cautiously awaiting to see the island blooming again with activity and guests relaxing on the beautiful beaches.”
Visitors can expect a refreshed island paradise with fewer crowds, making Phuket a perfect holiday destination for travelers to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature.
“Once you are here on the island it is business as usual, and apart from mandatory masks you have all the freedom as your prior visits to Phuket,” said Lyndon Ellis, General Manager of Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket. “Expect rejuvenated beaches and lesser crowds.”
Egger recommends going on a natural rehabilitation during this year. “Diving is just fantastic with the marine life back in full force on the reefs. It is a great time to visit Phuket now, as the sea has good waves and surfing is back in Kata, Kalim and Kamala,” Egger added. “With international travel we are already seeing longer stays. The 14 days do have to be in a SHA+ hotel but it does not have to be the same hotel for the duration of the stay.”
Since the Phuket Sandbox announcement, Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket has seen its average length of stay for July bookings go up to 6.5 days, up from the usual 3.5 days. The majority of its inbound guests are coming from the Middle East and Europe, with just 25% from domestic Thai travelers. Wyndham Kalim Bay is seeing inbound traveler bookings from Israel, UAE, parts of Europe, and the U.S.
RCI affiliated resorts in other parts of Thailand are waiting for tourism demand arising from the Phuket Sandbox to ramp up before reopening. For instance, Karma Apsara in Koh Samui is scheduled to reopen in September 2021.
“We are starting to see leisure travel returning, with Thailand being the first country in Asia to reopen to international visitors without quarantine,” Mulcahy added. “We look forward to seeing other countries adopting similar models to reopen their borders to international guests and to support the recovery of tourism in the Asia Pacific region.”