SINGAPORE (July 8, 2021) – RCI, the world’s leading vacation exchange company under the Panorama portfolio of leading travel membership brands, rejoices with affiliated resorts in Phuket on the return of international leisure travel in view of the Phuket Sandbox reopening.
Under the 'Phuket Sandbox' program introduced by Tourism Authority of Thailand, fully vaccinated foreign travelers can visit Phuket without quarantine requirements starting July 1.
RCI affiliated resorts including Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket, Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort Phuket and Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay have been certified SHA+, a certification awarded to hotel operators and businesses who not only meet the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) standards, but also have at least 70% of their staff vaccinated against COVID-19.
"Our members have been scheduling their vacations far ahead in hopes of travelling as soon as flights and international borders reopen," said Paul Mulcahy, Managing Director for RCI APAC, India & EMEA. "It is great to see that most of our affiliated properties in Phuket are SHA+ certified and we are working closely together with them to fulfill our members' travel needs."
RCI launched two new travel products during the COVID-19 pandemic, in view of significant pent-up travel demand from its members. Under the Hotel Exchange program, members can use their trading power or points to book discounted stays at over 600,000 hotels worldwide, including in Phuket. Members can book stays at multiple hotels for the period of their vacation, in addition to resort stays.
RCI's Enhanced Exchange Protection provides members with peace of mind for their booking, allowing them to cancel their exchange booking – for any reason at all – up to 2 business days before their check-in date.
Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort Phuket and Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay have reopened since July 2020 with Wyndham Destinations' Vacation ReadyTM enhanced resort cleaning protocols in place.
"It is exciting to have the borders to Phuket open again to welcome our international guests," said Dominic Egger, General Manager for Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay. "It has been a difficult time for our island -- and Thailand as a whole -- and we are eagerly but cautiously awaiting to see the island blooming again with activity and guests relaxing on the beautiful beaches."
Visitors can expect a refreshed island paradise with fewer crowds, making Phuket a perfect holiday destination for travelers to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature.
"Once you are here on the island it is business as usual, and apart from mandatory masks you have all the freedom as your prior visits to Phuket," said Lyndon Ellis, General Manager of Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket. "Expect rejuvenated beaches and lesser crowds."
Egger recommends going on a natural rehabilitation during this year. "Diving is just fantastic with the marine life back in full force on the reefs. It is a great time to visit Phuket now, as the sea has good waves and surfing is back in Kata, Kalim and Kamala," Egger added. "With international travel we are already seeing longer stays. The 14 days do have to be in a SHA+ hotel but it does not have to be the same hotel for the duration of the stay."
Since the Phuket Sandbox announcement, Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket has seen its average length of stay for July bookings go up to 6.5 days, up from the usual 3.5 days. The majority of its inbound guests are coming from the Middle East and Europe, with just 25% from domestic Thai travelers. Wyndham Kalim Bay is seeing inbound traveler bookings from Israel, UAE, parts of Europe, and the U.S.
RCI affiliated resorts in other parts of Thailand are waiting for tourism demand arising from the Phuket Sandbox to ramp up before reopening. For instance, Karma Apsara in Koh Samui is scheduled to reopen in September 2021.
"We are starting to see leisure travel returning, with Thailand being the first country in Asia to reopen to international visitors without quarantine," Mulcahy added. "We look forward to seeing other countries adopting similar models to reopen their borders to international guests and to support the recovery of tourism in the Asia Pacific region."
About RCIRCI is the new shape of travel™. As the worldwide leader in membership travel services to the vacation ownership industry, the company offers the industry's leading vacation exchange platform to its 3.7 million members around the world, providing access to more than 4,200 affiliated resorts in approximately 110 countries. RCI Travel offers enhanced travel services allowing its members to flexibly travel year round. RCI is a part of the Panorama family of travel brands at Travel + Leisure Co. (NYSE:TNL). For additional information visit rci.com. RCI also can be found on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.