Phuket is open for business, but Thais say paradise is lost

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Phuket is open for business, but Thais say paradise is lost

Thailand will start welcoming tourists from Thursday, but locals don’t have much hope for their struggling economy

Jiraporn Kuhakan

As Thailand’s government prepares to celebrate its reopening to foreign tourists this week, many businesses on Phuket aren’t too enthusiastic about their return.

The holiday destination is a pilot programme for Thailand’s reboot of a tourism industry gutted by the pandemic, allowing fully vaccinated visitors with negative coronavirus tests to fly directly to the southern island, bypassing 14-day quarantine requirements.

But local firms say they’ve been left behind and aren’t expecting much from the trickles of tourists due to arrive from Thursday. Visitors will see a different Phuket from the one visited annually by millions before the pandemic struck...

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