Samui 'Plus' islands ready to reopen, say operators

Samui 'Plus' islands ready to reopen, say operators

The Koh Tao tourism association has declared it is ready to be part of the reopening of Koh Samui to foreign visitors on July 15 as the island has been Covid-free for more than 63 days.

The island, popular with mostly young vacationers, has managed to have more than 70% of its 5,498 population vaccinated so far, said Worapong Wongsuwon, vice-president of Koh Tao Tourism Association.

Mr Worapong was briefing a recent meeting of tourism stakeholders of three islands, Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Together they form a chain of islands on the global tourist map.

The meeting was also attended by the House standing committee on tourism and Department of Disease Control.

The islands in Surat Thani are jointly promoting the Samui Plus Model (SPM), previously known as the Samui Sealed Route, which welcomes fully vaccinated tourists without the 140-day quarantine requirement.

The islands are getting back into the tourism business after Phuket reported some 900 foreign visitors arriving there on the first two days of reopening its doors to overseas tourists on July 1-2.

Mr Worapong said that under the SPM, in the first seven days of arrival, foreign visitors must remain on Koh Samui. During this period, days 1-3 will be spent in quarantine and days 4-7 travelling in sealed routes. Only from days 8 to 14 will they be able to travel freely.

Tourists will be subject to Covid-19 testing three times; on the first day of arrival, either on day 6 or 7 and either on day 12 or 13.

It was reported that on July 1-2, 1,680 residents, foreign expats and migrant workers received their first vaccination shots of AstraZeneca on Koh Tao. When combined with those given with the Sinovac vaccine, the total number vaccinated rose to 3,495 on the island.

Koh Tao Hospital has also inoculated another 588 people, pushing the total past 70% of the population.

Dr Manoo Sukonsakul, head of Surat Thani public health office, said Surat Thani has seen a steady improvement in the Covid-19 situation.

Its total number of active infections has dropped to 11, originally from clusters including those at a police flight training centre in Phanom district, and a construction site in Muang district. The infection hotspots have all been brought under control, he said.

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