'Samui Plus' learns from Phuket plan

'Samui Plus' learns from Phuket plan

Tougher screening 'insurance' for all, backers say

Koh Samui is to embark on a tourism reopening scheme later this week and local business operators are confident the "Samui Plus" model will throw a lifeline to the tourism industry in the same way the Phuket sandbox scheme has done on that resort island.

The Samui Plus model, which covers Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, starts on July 15, and will herald those islands' reopening to tourism. However, unlike the Phuket Sandbox, tourists are required to stay in alternative local quarantine (ALQ) for the first seven days.

Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said the community is watching the pilot Phuket Sandbox programme, launched on July 1, and is confident the Samui Plus model will work.

He said the Phuket Sandbox shows Thailand can manage health risks related to the reopening of tourism during the pandemic. The discovery of three Covid-19 imported cases under the Phuket Sandbox scheme is proof of robust screening.

Mr Ratchaporn said testing foreign visitors for the virus is part of the reopening plan and measures are in place to handle the situation. It is a form of insurance for foreign tourists and local people alike, he said.

He also noted that Covid-19 restrictions under "Samui Plus" are more intense than those adopted in Phuket.

Tourists are required to stay on Samui in hotels listed under the Safety and Health Administration (SHA) system during the first week and their activities will be closely supervised.

After seven days, they are allowed to visit two other islands for tours or transfer to other hotels which must also be listed under the SHA Plus system.

After a complete two-week stay in designated areas, tourists with a negative result will be free to travel to other provinces nationwide.

"These health safety measures make travelling on the three islands safe."

He said "Samui Plus" is likely to attract 1,000 travellers mainly from Israel, England, Germany and Scandinavian countries in the first month of reopening and generate 100 million baht for the local industry.

"The figure is small but we do hope it will throw a lifeline to business operators in every sector. More tourists are expected in the fourth quarter," he said.

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