Samui brainstorms tourist entry plan
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Samui brainstorms tourist entry plan

Call for airfare cuts to spur demand

Tourism operators on Koh Samui will seek help from the government to allow foreign tourists to visit the island. (Tourism Authority of Thailand photo)
Tourism operators on Koh Samui will seek help from the government to allow foreign tourists to visit the island. (Tourism Authority of Thailand photo)

The president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui will meet a sub-committee of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to brainstorm guidelines to allow foreign tourists to visit Samui.

Worasit Phong-amphan said last year Samui saw 2.3 million tourists but there are almost none right now because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Worasit will represent tourism entrepreneurs on Koh Samui in Surat Thani at the meeting with the CCSA on Wednesday.

He spoke at a recent forum between business operators on the resort island and the Immigration Bureau about new standard operating procedures during the Covid-19 era.

Mr Worasit said tourism entrepreneurs are ready to welcome back foreign tourists, though none have yet to arrive.

However, foreign tourists will be required to be quarantined at a hotel for 14 days before they can go outside if found to be uninfected.

Eligible foreign tourists must travel to Thailand with Thai Airways International and undergo swab testing once they arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport.

They can then take a flight to Samui without going through an immigration process.

After arrival, the tourists will have to undertake swab testing again before entering a quarantine facility, he said.

If the tourists test negative for seven days, they can leave their room but not the hotel.

After 14 days, they will be allowed to travel outside with a special wrist band, said Mr Worasit.

Mr Worasit also called on the government to work with Thai Airways International to provide discounted air tickets for foreign tourists.

Pimporn Thongsuk, an executive of The Fair Hour Beach Resort and Hotel on Samui island, said the Covid-19 pandemic is really an unprecedented situation.

Samui today has no tourists -- Thai or foreign -- and all types of entrepreneurs are still seriously affected by the virus despite the government's measures to help tourists pay for their hotel rooms, said Ms Pimporn.

At the same time, local entrepreneurs still have to rely on the only airline that provides direct flights to Samui.

The Samui airport's flight monopoly makes fares expensive, even during this period when the government is promoting domestic tourism, said Ms Pimporn.

She called on the government to help with this matter, saying expensive air tickets prevent tourists from visiting the island although hotels are open.

"One of our hopes is the construction of a 17-km bridge to connect the mainland in Khanom district, Nakhon Si Thammarat, to Samui island. This is the shortest way to reach Samui.

"Hotels with combined rooms of 40,000 are pinning their hopes on the bridge. Now we [the local businesses and people] are raising a petition the province to build the bridge," she said.

Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang, commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, said the standard operation procedures must be implemented by immigration officers, hotels, entertainment venues and restaurants to prevent Covid-19 from spreading in the country again.

Immigration officers must wear a face mask or face shield and wear gloves while on duty.

They must also wear a PPE suit and have their body temperature checked before and after work, he said.

Pol Lt Gen Sompong said the Thai and foreign tourists travelling to Samui must present essential documents required by the government and must also have Covid-19 screening tests that conform to the standards of the Department of Disease Control.

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