Expensive Covid-19 Tests, SHN Keep S’pore Travelers From Flocking To Reopened Phuket, Singapore News & Top Stories
SINGAPORE – The holiday island of Phuket reopened its doors to international travelers on Thursday (July 1), but travel agents say would-be tourists from Singapore are in no rush to book.
The high cost of numerous Covid-19 tests and travel insurance, as well as potentially lengthy quarantine requirements when returning to Singapore are likely to be a major deterrent, several travel agents in Singapore said.
The travel booking platform Klook also cites the uncertainty regarding travel requirements as the reason for the previously cautious reaction of the Singaporeans.
“Although the Singaporeans would like to get rid of this travel itch, we observe that many are still quite cautious. This is not unexpected as travel policies and quarantine measures are unfamiliar, ”said General Manager Sarah Wan.
Phuket is the first province in Thailand to welcome tourists again after closing the borders more than a year ago.
Tourists do not have to undergo quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in their country for at least 14 days and, among other things, tested negative on arrival.
Agence France-Presse news agency reported that 249 passengers were expected in Phuket on flights from countries such as Singapore, Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.
Currently, flight prices from Singapore to Phuket for the month of July are between $ 200 and $ 300.
Airfares of around $ 300 are similar to pre-Covid-19, said Ms. Alicia Seah, director of public relations and communications at Dynasty Travel.
However, there are additional costs that can become “sharp” for travelers.
“There is also a need to purchase travel insurance with coverage of at least US $ 100,000 (SGD 135,000). All of these costs have to be paid out of the traveler’s pockets, ”she remarked.
There are several other requirements for tourists, including obtaining an entry permit from the Thai embassy in their country of origin and a certificate of a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of flying to Thailand.
If your stay is less than 14 nights, you need a confirmed plane ticket from Thailand.
If you want to travel to the rest of Thailand, you have to stay in Phuket for 14 days in a hotel certified by the Thai government and take three coronavirus tests during this time.
During the duration of their stay, they must also use ThailandPlus and MorChana, which are mobile applications for tracking purposes.
Chan Brothers travel agency said it expects its customers to “wait and see if further developments can be seen”.
“While Phuket is rolling out its ‘travel sandbox’ program with the various terms and conditions, the increase in outbound tourism in our local market is also heavily reliant on Singapore’s own border measures and quarantine policies when travelers return to Singapore,” said Jeremiah Wong, senior marketing communications manager at Chan Brothers Travel.
Currently, all travelers arriving in Singapore from Thailand are required to fill out a 14-day Stay-Home-Notice (SHN) in special SHN facilities.
Dynasty Travel’s Ms. Seah also noted that while most of the malls, attractions, beaches, spa and wellness centers on the island are open, entertainment venues such as pubs, karaokes and nighttime entertainment centers and shows will remain closed.
Hotels that welcome tourists include the Banyan Tree hospitality group, which owns several properties on the resort island.
It received around 30 inquiries from Singapore on Thursday at the Banyan Tree Phuket, Angsana Laguna Phuket and Cassia Phuket resorts, a spokesman said.
“Interest in bookings will start in August as they are still reluctant to travel in July,” the spokesman said, adding that most inquirers raised concerns about quarantine when returning to Singapore and the multiple Covid-19 tests. that they have to discard.
Charlotte Heyman, regional manager for hotel and villa partnerships at travel booking site Mr & Mrs Smith, said bookings in Phuket had increased – especially in the final quarter of the year and early next year. Interest comes mainly from Europe and the United States, which still have Thailand on their no-travel list.
Klook has seen some interest in car rentals and booking polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests at a hospital in Phuket, Ms. Wan said. This is because more and more travelers are looking for private transportation to avoid the crowds and PCR testing is becoming “essential in the new normal of travel”.
A PCR swab test on Klook starts at $ 142.59.
Ms. Wan expects interest in recreational travel to increase as more Singapore residents are vaccinated.
“With Singapore aiming for half of its residents to be fully vaccinated by August, vaccination rates will also play a big role in the decision of Singaporeans when booking their next excursion.
“We believe interest will pick up from August once Singaporeans are fully vaccinated again and are confident of going overseas.”