Hotels cringe as 'Test & Go' withers
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Hotels cringe as 'Test & Go' withers

Thai tourism is expected to hit a dead end after the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration decided to temporarily suspend the "Test & Go" scheme and freeze Thailand Pass approval for this scheme from today.

Phuket is allowed to continue its sandbox programme, while entry is allowed to all provinces with quarantine.

"We've learned from the past international tourists will not visit here if a quarantine is mandatory," said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association.

"It's almost impossible for Thailand to avoid Omicron spread despite more stringent measures for foreign tourists. If the government decides to shelve the quarantine exemption for the sake of prevention, the suspension period should not be too long."

Cabinet approval of a new phase of the hotel subsidy campaign for domestic tourists should help tourism operators to some extent, but foreign tourists provided a healthy uptick the past two months, said Mrs Marisa.

She said hotels in Phuket, which are heavily dependent on foreign markets, showed significant growth as 50% of inbound tourists chose the island as their destination.

"If we reinstate a mandatory quarantine, it would be a dead end for a fast tourism recovery, particularly for major destinations like Bangkok, which was a stopover for Test & Go travellers required to stay for a night after arrival," said Mrs Marisa.

Thirayuth Chirathivat, chief executive of Centara Hotels and Resorts, said the hospitality sector will crumple without the Test & Go scheme.

Hotels started to rehire more workers to support their business after the country's reopening on Nov 1.

Mr Thirayuth said a quarantine requirement will definitely deter tourists and push the whole industry back to the starting line.

Bookings at popular destinations such as Phuket this month reached 90-100%, while those in January are at 70-80%.

Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said the suspension of Test & Go will directly impact the island next year as bookings are frozen until the government announces a further update on travel rules, scheduled for Jan 4.

"If Phuket can receive tourists under the sandbox programme, Koh Samui, which also served as a pilot destination since July, should be allowed to continue as well," said Mr Ratchaporn.

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