Pattaya hoteliers keen on comprehensive jabs
Slow period expected after Songkran
Hotels in Pattaya are concerned about the tourism outlook, pinning their hopes on mass vaccination as the only way to exit the worst crisis in its history.
Phisut Sae-Khu, president of the Thai Hotels Association's (THA) eastern chapter, said operators in Pattaya are hoping for a reopening in October after another setback from a third wave of Covid-19 cases in Bangkok.
Apart from Phuket, which will be the first pilot area to welcome vaccinated tourists without quarantine in July, Pattaya, Krabi, Phangnga, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai are scheduled to join the sandbox programme in October.
"We are worried about the vaccination plan for Pattaya," Mr Phisut said. "If the situation worsens, we need to have Covid-19 vaccines, which are supposed to be distributed to local communities in the sandbox areas."
He said the government must procure enough vaccines, via state and private companies, to build up herd immunity and maintain the tourism reopening plan as scheduled. Tourism operators will work on creating demand, said Mr Phisut.
He expects a slow period ahead as there is no long weekend to stimulate domestic trips with high income after Songkran.
The industry will likely have to wait until the New Year celebration, said Mr Phisut.
Before the fresh outbreak flared up from the Thong Lor cluster, hotels in Pattaya were fully booked.
"Tourism sentiment after Songkran will inevitably be stagnant, with a single-digit occupancy rate as happened during the nationwide lockdown last year," said Udom Srimahachota, vice-president of the THA's western chapter.
The best-case scenario will see some tourists from Bangkok still visit Hua Hin, with the occupancy rate there reaching 30% on Saturdays, he said. If the government can control the new outbreak by May, in two months tourism may gradually revive, said Mr Udom.
Last week Hua Hin faced many cancellations from the domestic market because of unclear entry regulations, he said.
Many travellers believed Prachuap Khiri Khan imposed a 14-day quarantine for all tourists from Bangkok. In fact, only the red-zone districts such as Wattana, Bang Khae and Bang Khun Thian in Bangkok have mandatory quarantine, said Mr Udom. As a result, at least 30% of hotel employees are at risk of unemployment if there is another lockdown, he said.
Most importantly, the government has to quickly roll out guidelines for the 250 billion baht in soft loans and 100 billion for the asset warehousing scheme for banks to allow operators access to the aid, said Mr Udom.