Samui (People's Daily) - Eleven tourists from Germany, England and France landed at Samui island airport on Thursday for one week's quarantine.
Samui became the second Thailand destination to welcome international tourists after Phuket, which reopened July 1.
If everything goes well, afterwards the tourists can travel to Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan or Ko Tao.
The July-December 2021 Samui Plus program allows fully vaccinated travelers to visit three islands in Surat Thani province. All guests must take three COVID tests during their first seven days.
"The reopening of Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao to tourism is another significant step toward achieving the Thai Prime Minister’s recently announced policy of reopening the whole country within 120 days, or by the end of October," said Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, minister of tourism and sports. "Phuket is already open as the pilot destination and other destinations will follow in the scheduled order with carefully planned disease control and public health measures, travel procedures and the right tourism marketing all being addressed."
The Phuket and Samui programs would return Thailand to "a beloved destination for travelers around the world," said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Thailand Tourism Authority.
"The gorgeous islands of Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao are among the best beach resorts in Asia and it is fantastic to see these welcoming tourists again," he said.
The next planned destinations are Krabi, Phang Nga and Chiang Mai.
Thailand plans to reopen the whole country without quarantine by the end of October.
Thailand's economy depends heavily on tourism, with foreign tourist dollars contributing around 11 percent to the national economy.
By including peripheral businesses that hinge on tourism, the contribution to Thai GDP from direct and indirect tourism is close to 20 percent.