Island banking on Samui Sealed Route
The Samui Sealed Route model is committed to the same schedule to bring back vaccinated travellers from July 1 despite hurdles from the fresh round of infections.
Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said vaccine rollouts have already gathered pace in Koh Samui as approximately 30% or 25,000 people already received two doses, while reports of side effects are very few.
However, as vaccines have to be distributed to other provinces to fight the contagion, vaccine shipments to Samui of around 160,000 doses for 80,000 residents might be delayed.
He said once another batch arrives, vaccinations can begin a few days later. The island has the capacity to administer 25,000 shots within five days at four vaccine centres.
"We firmly believe that the vaccination process will be completed by June which will be in time for the reopening plan," said Mr Ratchaporn.
In the meantime, Surat Thani province and the island have to tighten travel restrictions and disease control measures to contain the viral spread with 50 cases found in Koh Samui.
He said the number of new cases continued to slow after the spreading cluster was detected and controlled. It helped prove the efficiency of public health services in case of an emergency situation as the island can offer medical care for up to 100 Covid patients at the same time.
Mr Ratchaporn urged the government to take decisive action to stop inter-provincial travel to flatten the curve. This measure is more important than ordering businesses to close for 14 days and possibly extend indefinitely.
Moreover, the country's effective virus containment will boost confidence and benefit operators to run marketing campaigns with international tourists.
The island now has one direct flight per week from Singapore.
At present, potential markets such as Israel, Australia, Russia and Southeast Asian countries have informed operators that once the island is open, they are ready to visit.
He said operators are drafting tour progammes for the Samui Sealed Route in which tourists can travel to sealed beach areas at Tham Rang in Angthong National Marine Park or do wellness activities such as yoga, spa treatments and meditation.
Prior to sealed route trips, tourists have to stay in their rooms on the arrival date and take a swab test the second day, then they can leave their rooms and use other hotel facilities.
Travellers can step out of the hotel from the fourth day, and get another test on the seventh day. With a negative result, they can continue their trips in Koh Samui or to other destinations.