PHUKET: Phuket’s first ‘travel bubble’ tourists, who will be observing a ‘villa quarantine’ at the five-star Sri Panwa resort on the island’s east coast, landed at Phuket International Airport last night (Feb 21).

The tourists, 59 in total, arrived via Indonesia on two flights operated by Indonesian national airline Garuda Indonesia.

The first flight, with 13 of the tourists on board, landed at 8:20pm. The second flight, carrying 46 tourists, landed at about 11pm.

Present to welcome the tourists were Phuket Vice Governor Phichet Panaphong, joined by Patong Hospital Director Dr Muenphrae Boonlom, who is now the acting chief of the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO).

Also present were officers from the Disease Prevention and Control Region 11 Office, based in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, to oversee the swab testing procedure.

“When they entered the international terminal, we first checked their body temperature,” Vice Governor Phichet explained.

“We had immigration officers at 25 counters to check their documents. Then they walked to the Customs area to declare their belongings,” he added.

“After that they got in a van to be taken to the X-terminal building to have swab test samples taken there. They were tested by the disease control officers at the mobile COVID-19 test van parked in front of the building.

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“The swab test process took less than one minute each. Then the tourists later were directly taken to Sri Panwa resort,” Vice Governor Phichet said.

“We had two police vans, one in front and one behind the tourist van, while the tourists were en route,” he added.

The arrival process went smoothly, Vice Governor Phichet noted.

“I have to thank all officers for their good cooperation to take care of the tourists and create an impressive image of Phuket as their good, safe host,” he added.

However, no explanations were given as to why only 59 tourists arrived as the ‘travel bubble’ last night.

Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced last Wednesday (Feb 17) that the total number of tourists arriving would total 70.