Samui bookings surge
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Samui bookings surge

Easing of restrictions leads to uptick

Samui island
Samui island

Koh Samui's sandbox programme has received positive feedback after lifting the mandatory quarantine, with new bookings during the first 10 days of this month already exceeding its total numbers since opening on July 15.

Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said momentum is expected to continue following the UK's decision to remove Thailand from its red list, which will enable British tourists to fly home without facing mandatory quarantine.

"The UK market totally disappeared the past month after Thailand was put on the red list. But we anticipate this market will return, along with the Russian market, with pent-up demand just awaiting the approval of flights," he said.

From Oct 1-10, Samui had forward bookings of 955 tourists, generating 7,220 room nights, of which 723 travellers plan to visit the island in October, 158 in November and 74 in December.

Mr Ratchaporn said when the island imposed a mandatory three-day quarantine, it received only around 500 tourists in a whole month.

From July 15 to Sept 30, this programme saw soft demand of just 907 tourists, as well as 399 tourists from the Phuket extension programme.

Of the new bookings in October, 24.5% are from Germany, 13.4% from France, and 10.2% were made by Thai nationals. Some 79.2% of these bookings were for an average stay of 7-14 days.

Samui will not require local travellers to show RT-PCR or antigen test kit results from Oct 15.

Visitors can use a vaccination certificate to enter the island, with the aim of making travel there less of a hassle for those enrolled in the domestic stimulus campaigns that started this month.

From Oct 8, the 40% subsidy scheme called We Travel Together saw 60,174 travellers book via the programme, generating 572 million baht for the local economy. Of the total, 360 million baht came from spending by visitors and 212 million from the government budget, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

However, the 5-billion-baht stimulus programme Tour Teaw Thai, which subsidises 40% of tour packages at a level of up to 5,000 baht per person, still has not received any bookings.

The available programmes published on the Tour Teaw Thai website only include four packages at present.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the low number of participants in terms of tour operators is because the process is too complicated. The agency is discussing with stakeholders how to resolve issues regarding the verification system as previous campaigns were targets of fraud.

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