Hoteliers still jittery over reopening
60 properties await approval as ASQ sites
The lack of clarity about a plan to welcome international tourists has dented hoteliers' confidence about reopening.
The majority of hotels in Phuket, about 90%, remain closed and are revising their reopening plans on a monthly basis to ensure future income will not lag behind operation costs, said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, president of the Thai Hotels Association's (THA) southern chapter.
On Tuesday the cabinet approved a special tourist visa scheme (STV) for long-stay tourists, effective from October until November 2021.
If the government reveals further details in terms of prospective markets, date of arrival, origin countries, flights and proof of travellers waiting to visit the country, more hoteliers will consider reopening, he said.
Some 60 hotels are awaiting approval as alternative state quarantine (ASQ) facilities, which is adequate to welcome tourists, said Mr Kongsak.
"After international tourists gradually return, the government has to help maintain the positive sentiment towards Phuket among local residents," he said.
Operators floated the idea of the government providing 500 baht worth of health insurance for locals, or 5 million baht for those infected with the virus while travelling to Phuket in order to instil confidence.
Thanes Supornsahasrungsri, president of the Tourism Council of Chon Buri, said of 200 registered hotels, half have reopened, while 10-20 hotels are applying for ASQ certification to receive foreigners who work in industrial estates.
Most international flights are currently operating at Suvarnabhumi airport, except private jets that can fly direct to other airports in the country. This means most foreigners have to undergo quarantine in Bangkok.
He said the government should provide alternative plans to move visitors safely from the airport to ASQ facilities in other provinces, avoiding encountering large groups of people along the way.
La-Iad Bungsrithong, president of THA's northern chapter, said Chiang Mai is not a target for long-stay tourists compared with seaside destinations, so operators there may not receive much of a windfall from the first stage of reopening.
Only 30% of hotels in the North are back to business with a 10% occupancy rate, making it difficult to predict when the rest will follow.
Mrs La-Iad said resumption of tourist arrivals will not begin by October because tourism-related agencies have to run marketing campaigns and find the right markets that can comply with 14-day quarantine. Operators should focus on the domestic market first, she said.