Clear entry edicts demanded now

Clear entry edicts demanded now

Operators seek early resolution to avoid losing out on lucrative markets during high season

Tourists take photos at Samed Nang Chee viewpoint in Phangnga province.
Tourists take photos at Samed Nang Chee viewpoint in Phangnga province.

Tourism operators urged the Thai government to issue clear and definitive entry regulations for foreigners as soon as possible or the country stands to lose out on lucrative markets in the high season.

The Russian government indicated it plans to lift the ban on international commercial flights with Thailand from Nov 9.

Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, said tour operators such as Pegas Touristik cannot sell packages to Russians nor operate charter flights here without clear regulations.

He said if the government plans to replace the certificate of entry (CoE) system with the Thailand Pass, tour operators need to know more details about the new system to prepare their operations in advance.

"If complete travel requirements are not announced soon, the country might lose the chance to welcome the Russian market this high season, as they will choose destinations with more convenient entry," Mr Thanet said.

Pongsakorn Ketprapakorn, president of the Tourism Council of Phangnga, said travel agents are ready to arrange charter flights to Khao Lak once hurdles from both countries are cleared, including the withdrawal of the CoE programme, as tourists don't want to deal with the cumbersome process.

He said Phangnga tourism is depending on this market from Phuket, as the island was accustomed to welcoming 800,000 Russians via charter flights per year prior to the pandemic, of which 80,000 visited Phangnga.

Since Phangnga has been allowed to receive tourists directly from Oct 1 without waiting for the seven-day mandatory quarantine in Phuket, around 5,000 room nights have been booked, surpassing the whole month of the 7+7 extension programme, which tallied only 3,000 room nights.

A wider reopening for low-risk origin countries, greater relaxation of requirements for the international market and domestic trips under the We Travel Together hotel subsidy campaign should raise the overall occupancy rate from 10% to 30-35% in the last quarter, said Mr Pongsakorn.

He said more hoteliers are planning to reopen on Nov 1, when the whole province is expected to open to international visitors, if the vaccination rate reaches 70% by the end of this month as predicted.

Lodging operators still have to monitor demand closely before making such a decision, said Mr Pongsakorn.

"The government has to implement clear regulations on its quarantine-free reopening plan on Nov 1, publishing them in the Royal Gazette soon to help tourists make decisions," said Danny Sukomol, deputy managing director at Santhiya Resorts and Spas.

Unclear guidelines encourage tourists to visit other countries with clearer, less stringent requirements such as Greece, the Maldives or the Caribbean for year-end holidays, said Mr Danny.

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