Although Thailand’s current coronavirus outbreak and vaccine shortage have caused a pause in the reopening of Phuket to international visitors, the Bangkok Post reports that tourism officials in Chiang Mai are optimistic that a similar scheme in the north will be introduced on time. International tourists are expected to arrive on October 1, just in time for China’s week-long National Day holidays. However, in order to inoculate local residents, 400,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will be needed.
Chiang Mai sandbox model will allow foreign tourists who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 to visit certain parts of Thailand without having to go through quarantine. The outlying districts of Mae Rim and Mae Taeng, rather than Chiang Mai county, are being tapped to host overseas arrivals, citing low population density and “abundant natural resources,” according to President of the Tourism Council of Chiang Mai, Punlop Saejew. Elephant Nature Park, an ethical pachyderm sanctuary that has been running since the late 1990s, the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens, and the Mae Sa waterfall are all located in this scenic location. There are a variety of luxury hotels in the two districts, including the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai.
With Phuket reopening in July, tourism operators anticipate that other Thai tourist destinations will benefit from the potential influx of international tourists. For the time being, tourism operators in Chiang Mai are targeting a range of Asian markets for the October reopening, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. Beyond the Asia-Pacific area, the “sandbox model” may also appeal to long-haul travellers from Scandinavia.