The country will also be shortening its quarantine period from 14 days to 10 for people entering the country from abroad.
On Friday, a panel chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha approved a proposal that will allow travelers who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to visit Phuket without quarantining starting July 1.
The plan calls for vaccinating 70% of Phuket’s residents before the island reopens to tourists in July. Those vaccinations are expected to start in April.
Phuket’s governor and the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration still have to approve the proposal.
Yuthasak Supasor, head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said the country may expand the reopening to other tourist hotspots — such as Samui Island, Krabi, Pattaya and Chiang Mai — in October, if Phuket’s reopening is successful.
The country hopes to welcome around 100,000 tourists in the third quarter of this year.
Earlier this month, tourism groups in Thailand launched a campaign asking the government to allow fully vaccinated tourists into the country without quarantining starting July 1.
“The financial, social, physical and psychological health of Thai people has been adversely affected,” the letter said. “The disruption of travel has not just impacted tourism, but also torn families apart and greatly reduced international trade.”
“The current situation is unsustainable,” the letter added.
Before the pandemic, Phuket was the country’s second-most popular destination after Bangkok. In 2019, it welcomed around 10 million foreign tourists and generated 470 billion baht ($15 billion) in revenue.
According to the Phuket Hotel Association, more than 50,000 employees in its hospitality sector lost their jobs last year.
Thailand’s economy was severely hit by the pandemic, but Prayuth said Friday that thanks to his government’s financial stimulus package and vaccination plans, he is optimistic that the country can achieve 4% GDP growth this year, compared to a 6.1% contraction in 2020.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.