Tourism operators in Hua Hin have cried foul over a government decision to postpone its planned reopening even though the resort town is on course to achieve its vaccination target and complete all required procedures.
The beach town in Prachuap Khiri Khan was ready to welcome tourists on Oct 15 as it had followed all the guidelines set by the government, including mass vaccination of 70% of the population, said Krod Rojanastien, president of the Thai Spa Association and head of the Hua Hin Recharge programme.
As of Friday, 60% of the population had had their second jabs and at the present rate, the vaccination rate is expected to surpass 70% by Wednesday, he said on Friday.
Hua Hin Recharge, which covers Hua Hin municipality and neighbouring tambon Nong Kae to the south, would allow international tourists to travel without quarantine once they receive a negative Covid test result upon arrival. Tourists who spend the first seven days of their trip in the Phuket sandbox programme would also be eligible.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry has said that the reopening of Hua Hin and other destinations including Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi and Bangkok looked set to be postponed to Nov 1, which would be the second delay after an earlier two-week deferral from Oct 1 to Oct 15.
The governor of Bangkok had opposed reopening the capital on Oct 15 and said he would not consider giving the go-ahead until 70% of the city’s residents have been vaccinated. But the private sector has complained that the series of false starts was making it impossible for them or their overseas partners to make plans to bring visitors to the country.
“Even though Hua Hin has a domestic market to support the short-term business, the decision to shift the date again has destroyed the country’s image,” said Mr Krod, a consultant to the internationally renowned Chiva-Som International Health Resort in Hua Hin.
“The reopening plan should not be abruptly put off like playing a tug-of-war which will deter tourists and lead them to consider other destinations as they have to plan their trips ahead.”
Operators have already held talks with airlines, such as Bangkok Airways and Jetstar, about direct flights to Hua Hin airport, he added.