Samui Plus set for slow reopening

Samui Plus set for slow reopening

Initial months to help build awareness

The beach is deserted by Shiva Samui resort in tambon Maret, Koh Samui, Surat Thani province on July 3, 2021. (Photo: Dave Kendall)
The beach is deserted by Shiva Samui resort in tambon Maret, Koh Samui, Surat Thani province on July 3, 2021. (Photo: Dave Kendall)

The Samui Plus scheme is anticipating soft demand due to a surge in daily cases and delays in the Certificate of Entry (COE) registration process, while travel agents want to see clear regulations before launching marketing plans.

Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said the programme needs one to two months to build awareness as it must test the customer experience first.

Despite the latest semi-lockdown in the capital, Bangkok Airways will operate flights to Koh Samui as planned, including a Bangkok-Koh Samui route twice daily, sealed route flights for international passengers from Bangkok to Koh Samui (three flights per day) and Koh Samui-Phuket (four flights per week) from Friday.

On Aug 1, Bangkok Airways will start international flights between Koh Samui and Singapore.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), 11 international media houses from the UK, France, Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong will inspect the programme tomorrow while four international travellers from Taiwan and Japan will arrive on Friday.

The number of seat bookings in July is 33, followed by 20 seats in August, 10 in September, and 17 in October.

"We do not expect an influx of international travellers in the third quarter because the country is still dealing with a high number of cases," Mr Ratchaporn said. "Samui Plus aims to test the waters and prepare operators for more tourists when tourism rebounds."

At present, 177 hotels and 8,629 rooms have reopened in Koh Samui out of 671 hotels and 25,000 rooms in total.

There are also 19 hotels featuring 400 rooms serving as Area Quarantine (AQ) for the first seven days of tourist arrivals.

He said the price of a 7-day AQ stay will be between 35,000-100,000 baht, which includes 16,000 baht in medical fees and three swab tests.

If tourists stay less than 14 days, they will be refunded the swab test fees which costs 4,000 baht for one test, followed by 6,000 baht and 8,000 baht for second and third tests, respectively.

Mr Ratchaporn said the average occupancy is now at 8-10% due to staycation guests but the number should increase to 20-30% in the third quarter after marketing campaigns.

If more than 20 cases of people under sealed routes are logged at hospitals in two weeks, the tourists will have to stay in AQ.

Meanwhile, if the number of cases on the island rises to 40 cases at hospitals within two weeks, more stringent measures will be implemented.

The decision to terminate Samui Plus will be made by the Covid-19 Center of Koh Samui.

Tourists who board the same flight as passengers who test positive will have to test negative in the first swab test in AQ like other tourists and can travel under sealed routes without undergoing a 14-day quarantine.

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