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Bangkok Post - Rayong firms push for travel perks until year-end
Rayong firms push for travel perks until year-end
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Rayong firms push for travel perks until year-end

Operators in Rayong are urging the government to extend the tourism campaign until the end of the year to stimulate weak domestic demand and create more events in Koh Samet to attract locals.

Sarinthip Tupmongkholsup, president of Tourism Association of Koh Samet, said tourism sentiment during the high season will not be strong enough to drive domestic trips in this tough economy.

If the tourism campaign that ends on Oct 31 can be extended until the end of the year and the government helps generate more tourism events for destinations, further benefits for locals can be created, she said.

"There have been no events to boost tourism in Koh Samet since the island reopened on July 1," Ms Sarinthip said.

"Most events usually occur on the mainland."

National parks under the Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, the agency in charge of the islands, should relax some conditions related to natural resources preservation and allow mini-marathons or watersport events to be held on the island.

She said the government should provide more accessible soft loans for operators in Rayong and Koh Samet that were directly affected by the infected Egyptian soldier recently.

The association plans to submit a letter consisting of three requests from operators to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during a cabinet meeting in Rayong.

The occupancy rate for 140 hotels on the island is 50% on the weekends, but usually drops to 20% during weekdays.

Ms Sarinthip said operators have to adapt to the new carrying capacity for post-pandemic rules, as national parks limit the maximum number of tourists to 2,000-3,000 per day, down from an average of 10,000 tourists in the past.

Chayut Chaitrakultong, president of Rayong Tourism Association, said the flow of tourists has improved after the Egyptian soldier who tested positive for the coronavirus visited Rayong last month.

Yet operators are still worried about the economic fallout preventing tourists from making trips, he said.

The average occupancy rate at beach locations hit 90% during weekends, but hotels in the city were lagging behind with 30-40% occupancy rates.

Most hotels, including hotels in beach areas, also faced softer demand of only 20-30% occupancy rate from Monday to Thursday.

The province is preparing new events every week such as concerts and sports events.

Mr Chayut hopes the mobile cabinet meeting will boost tourists' confidence about safety in the province.

He said the government should continue supporting events until the end of the year.

A growing number of state agency meetings have been scheduled in the province lately, said Mr Chayut.

In terms of a long-term development plan, he encouraged the government to attract foreign investment for a theme park project to create a new landmark for the province.

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