Thailand’s Phuket aims to become ‘immunity island’ for tourists as it seeks post-coronavirus bounce-back

This photo taken on January 30, 2021 shows a Thai AirAsia Airbus A320 passenger airplane flying over an empty beach as it lands at Phuket International Airport in Phuket. - AFP

BANGKOK (SCMP): At Phuket’s Chalong pier, boat driver Mang is in rare, high spirits: he has just had his first paying guests in two months. But for other tour boat operators in the area, surviving until the Thai borders fully reopen to tourists is another question.

“Some owners without savings have sold the boats, some have laid off workers,” Mang says as he surveys the lines of idling tour boats around the pier, where in pre-pandemic times they would quickly whisk off the waiting tourists to sea, zipping them through hidden coves among the many offshore islands.

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