Phuket hotels see more UK cancellations

Phuket hotels see more UK cancellations

Guests leaving early to avoid having to pay for costly quarantine on return home to UK

A tourist takes a picture on a beach in Phuket, which has been open to fully vaccinated international visitors since the start of July.
A tourist takes a picture on a beach in Phuket, which has been open to fully vaccinated international visitors since the start of July.

Hotels in Phuket are seeing an influx of cancellations from the UK, while existing guests are checking out early to avoid being kept in costly self-paid quarantine when they return home.

The UK announced on Friday that it would move Thailand to its red list from the amber list, effective from Monday, because of the high Covid-19 risk in the country.

When the news broke, hotels taking part in the Phuket sandbox tourism reopening programme received a large number of cancellations from UK customers, said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, the president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA).

Other guests who now face the prospect of a quarantine on their return to the UK were rushing to leave.

“Some of them had just arrived a few days ago but have to prepare to leave as the price for quarantine facilities in the UK is too expensive. They said it would cost them around £2,200 (98,000 baht) for a 10-day package,” said Mrs Marisa.

She said the situation is a setback for the tourism reopening plan, noting that the Covid risk in Phuket and some neighbouring destinations  was quite low compared with other parts of the country.

“It’s unfortunate that most of those destinations have much fewer Covid-19 cases, while the infection rate among international travellers was even smaller,” said Mrs Marisa.

As of Aug 27, Phuket had recorded 25,030 arrivals under the sandbox programme, with just 75 inbound travellers found infected with the virus.

The THA, she said, would like authorities to make the international community aware that Covid is well under control in most of southern Thailand, as the sandbox programme for fully vaccinated international visitors is a critical first step toward the success of reopening.

Worapol Ungtrakul, assistant managing director at Sunset Beach Resort and Oceanfront Beach Resort and Spa, said existing guests from the UK started to leave Phuket before the deadline on Monday and a lot of bookings for September had been cancelled.

“Most of them didn’t want a postponement but are asking for a full refund as they were not certain about situation,” he said.

His hotel is around 20-30% occupied, with UK guests a significant portion of the total.

“It’s difficult to predict the situation in the last quarter as guests will opt for last-minute bookings than snatching early-bird deals like before, because the Certificate of Entry (COE) application allows them to apply for one month before the trip,” said Mr Worapol.

“Some of them avoid advance bookings because our regulations keep changing and could affect their travel plans.”

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