Samui Plus sealed route open for bookings

Samui Plus sealed route open for bookings

There are no overseas tourists to be seen on Koh Samui in Surat Thani on July 1, 2021. (Photo: Dave Kendall)
There are no overseas tourists to be seen on Koh Samui in Surat Thani on July 1, 2021. (Photo: Dave Kendall)

Inoculated tourists can start booking for the second reopening destination, Samui Plus, under sealed route programme as the registration for certificate of entry (COE) was opened on Monday.

Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said some minor rules still need to be finalised, such as the cost of a 7-day alternative state quarantine (ALQ) package that should cost 35,000 baht, including swab tests and medical fees.

While many provinces, like Phuket, impose more stringent measures for local travellers, he said Koh Samui will not ask vaccinated travellers to show negative Covid-19 results.

But in the future, it has to update the policy with Surat Thani's governor based on daily Covid-19 reports.

Meanwhile, Phuket which launched its reopening programme on July 1 might face sluggish domestic demand in the third quarter due to tighter travel regulations.

Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA) southern chapter, said tighter restrictions for domestic arrivals are needed as new cases reach almost 10,000 each day.

From July 15-31, visitors from 10 provinces designated maximum and strict control zones and 24 provinces in the maximum control zone, even if they completed vaccination, still have to show a negative test result from RT-PCR or an antigen rapid test of no older than seven days upon arrival.

"The new measures in Phuket will not affect the domestic market because people are not in the mood to travel," Mr Kongsak said. "We should wait until the number of cases drops to 2,000 to see travel sentiment improve," he said.

Mr Kongsak said the country's vaccination rollout should be accelerated in the next two months in order to control the virus and allow businesses to restart.

He urged the government to impose strignent measures in 10 provinces to limit interprovincial movement.

Anthony Lark, president of the Phuket Hotels Association, said the most important issue is to protect Phuket residents from infections, and assure that every foreign traveller complies with the same measures upon arrival.

Domestic tourism in Phuket is always going to take a back seat to the reopening plan for international travellers, said Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks, a Phuket-based hospitality and property consultancy.

"So far, the sandbox has over 4,000 international arrivals and six confirmed cases, a fraction of 1%," Mr Barnett said. "The fundamental issue is Thailand that has to learn to co-exist with the virus."

According to the Phuket sandbox daily report, international arrivals during the first 11 days stood at 4,568, of which 4,561 travellers have tested negative, while six foreigners have tested positive for Covid-19 and one visitor is waiting for the test result.

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