Tourists flock to eastern provinces

Tourists flock to eastern provinces

Holiday weekend a bonanza for islands

Tourists prepare to leave Balihai Bay in Pattaya to Koh Lan on Friday. (Photo by Chaiyot Pupattanapong)
Tourists prepare to leave Balihai Bay in Pattaya to Koh Lan on Friday. (Photo by Chaiyot Pupattanapong)

Holidaymakers have been flocking to resort islands in the eastern provinces this long holiday weekend after the government further eased restrictions there. Almost 10,000 tourists travelled to Koh Lan on Friday alone.

On the first day of the Makha Bucha three-day holiday, Pattaya City in Chon Buri was buzzing with tourists as a result of the increasing confidence in the province's improving Covid-19 situation.

At a ferry pier in Balihai Bay, throngs of Thai tourists travelled with their families to spend the long weekend on islands in the province, particularly Koh Lan. The island recently reopened to visitors after its second closure due to the pandemic.

More than 10,000 people visited Koh Lan on Friday with tight security measures and Covid-19 screening provided by local officials. Tourists were required to have their body temperature measured, wear a face mask and observe social distancing.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration had removed Chon Buri from its list of the maximum control or red zones. The province was later treated as a control (orange) zone and high surveillance (yellow) zone respectively, after reporting zero cases for many consecutive days and implemented stringent disease control measures.

Entertainment venues and restaurants in Pattaya were allowed to reopen late last month after the city and the rest of Bang Lamung district were locked down to curb a surge in Covid-19 infections on Dec 30.

At a ticket office for ferry services to Koh Kut in Trat, over 300 tourists travelled to receive their pre-booked tickets for the first ferry scheduled to leave at 10am. Another 300-400 tourists were waiting at the ticket office for the second ferry of the day at 1pm. An additional ferry service was provided at 3pm to accommodate the increasing number of passengers.

Meanwhile, over 400 tourists travelled by ferries operated by Ko Kut Express and Koh Kood Princess to the island. A total of 1,200 tourists travelled to Koh Kut on Friday with the ferries. More travelled by speedboat.

Prawut Ramphai, the owner of the Sea Far Resort in Koh Kut, said tourists have been returning to Koh Kut since the beginning of February, especially at long weekends.

This weekend, 90% of rooms on the island had been booked, the resort owner said, and he forecast that the total number of tourists throughout the holiday period would exceed 3,500 people, likely generating more than 12 million baht to the island.

In Trat, about 15,000 tourists were expected to travel to Koh Chang this weekend. In the first few hours yesterday, 2,000 vehicles took ferries there.

Trat's total number of Covid-19 cases remained at 33, as of Feb 26. All of those infected have recovered.

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