Government to plug 'Wellness Sandbox'

Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan, on Nov 8, 2021. (Photo: Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

The government is set to promote Hua Hin and Cha-am as Thailand's “Wellness Sandbox” to attract health-conscious tourists from around the world.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Friday that the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (Cesa) approved in principle the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) proposal to promote the "Thailand Wellness Sandbox" for Hua Hin district of Prachuap Khiri Khan and Cha-am district of Phetchaburi.

According to the spokesman, Hua Hin and Cha-am will be touted as destinations for wellness tourism targeting tourists from neighbouring countries in Asean as well as from Europe, the Middle East, the United States and Canada.

Health-related products and services in both districts will be highlighted, along with the "Thailand Riviera" campaign to attract visitors to coastal destinations in the South, Mr Thanakorn said.

Efforts will be made to ensure tourists receive international-standard services, he said.

Cesa also instructed TAT to consider expanding wellness promotion to other regions, Mr Thanakorn said.

Krod Rojanastien, president of the Thai Spa Association and head of the Hua Hin Recharge programme, welcomed the Wellness Sandbox project.

He said a notable trend has emerged among tourists around the world who are placing greater emphasis on health and wellness, and that Hua Hin and Cha-am are among wellness destinations that fit the bill.

"To build this kind of destination, we have to look at components such as decent living standards and conditions, the environment and also tradition and culture."

He added, "These are components on the supply side, and we have to look into whether they are suitable or not, and if so, we can then promote the districts as two of the world’s newest wellness destinations providing a high-quality tourism and wellness experience."

Regarding Hua Hin’s readiness to become a wellness destination, he said that Hua Hin is already more than sufficiently equipped to serve health-conscious tourists.

"We also have brands with fine reputations for health and wellness, like Chiva-Som International Health Resort.

"Indeed, much of Hua Hin is famous in this respect. Therefore, we have discussed with local authorities a plan to turn Hua Hin into a 'City of Health'."

"And don’t forget," Mr Krod said, "that Hua Hin has many elderly tourists as well as elderly foreigners settling down here. So, this [Wellness Sandbox scheme] will also respond to the needs of an ageing society. In the post Covid-19 period, people around the world will be seeking special places like this," he said.

Operators have also welcomed the government’s decision to resume the “Test & Go” programme for international visitors.

Saksit Mungkarn, president of the Tourism Council of Trat, on Friday also welcomed the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration's (CCSA) decision to add more locations, including Trat’s Koh Chang district, to the state’s tourism sandbox programme, which is implemented at present in Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Krabi and Phangnga.

He said the sandbox programme will be a great boon to operators on Koh Chang as many premises and hotels have received the Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus certificates.

On Thursday, the CCSA announced that the Test & Go scheme will resume on Feb 1, with stricter requirements including a RT-PCR test on the fifth day following entry into Thailand.

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