Krabi operators counsel urgent vaccine readiness
Tourism operators in Krabi are urging the government to procure enough vaccines and establish clear regulations for national parks in preparation for the area's sandbox to open on Oct 1.
Ekawit Pinyotamanotai, president of the Krabi Tourism Association, said the Krabi sandbox starts in Koh Phi Phi, Ao Nang, Koh Lanta and Railay Bay, set as pilot areas to receive inoculated travellers.
Vaccine readiness is the key factor to build the confidence of locals and tourists, said Mr Ekawit.
Around 40,000-80,000 tourism workers in the four areas need to be prioritised for vaccinations, he said.
The province is studying the number of doses needed for mass inoculation, allowing a safe reopening.
The vaccination campaign is expected to start next month, with a capability to administer 8,000-10,000 vaccine doses per day during the first stage.
Mr Ekawit said travel agents from Britain, Germany and Scandinavian countries have already expressed their intention to visit the province, but they have to wait for more details on the sandbox and the government's policy.
He urged the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department to implement clearer regulations as 90% of tourism sites are located in national park areas.
Mr Ekawit said operators cannot plan tour packages in advance because government orders may close tourism areas without warning or information about the period of closure. For example, Maya Bay was closed abruptly until further notice.
"Operators agree natural resources need rehabilitation, but the closures require more clarification," he said.
In addition, the department needs to consider more practical solutions in managing capacity at the national parks.
Mr Ekawit said the parks should specify the length of time visitors can spend on the islands and beaches.
Boat fleets also need effective management to prevent price wars and ensure quality services, he said.
The private sector still wants domestic stimulus to continue throughout the year, especially during the low season in August and September, said Sasithorn Kittidhrakul, president of the Krabi Tourism Association.
Ms Sasithorn said the extension gives more operators revenue opportunities, such as hoteliers in Koh Lanta, which has a marine national park as a magnet, but it does not open until October.