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Koh Samui aims for quarantine-free travel starting in October

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Koh Samui aims for quarantine-free travel starting in October | Thaiger

Koh Samui is aiming to offer quarantine-free travels for vaccinated visitors to the southern gulf island. Joining Phuket, the island is expected to be the first area in Surat Thani to test such quarantine-free entries for tourists as it features its own airport. Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, the president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, says he is hopeful that Samui will join other worldwide destinations in recapturing tourists.

“Koh Samui wants to grab tourist demand as there are many destinations globally that require no quarantine.”

He says the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao can develop their own entry standards after people arrive in Samui, as they are both second stops from the main tourist island in the gulf, and are reachable by short ferry trips.

Ratchaporn is allaying fears from locals as he insists there mustn’t be any opposition to the plan. Samui is joining the tourism “sandbox,” which is a new programme to speed up the reopening process before the whole country follows. But he says the plan won’t work unless Samui reaches herd immunity and that involves vaccinating around 300,000 residents to achieve the goal.

Another hurdle to overcome, is setting up sealed terminals to allow international commercial flights to transit in Bangkok before flying to Samui. Ratchaporn says the aircraft can be the ATR 72-600 which features 70 seats. He says there could be 1 flight per week to Samui from Bangkok.

To prepare for the upcoming reopening, the 3 gulf islands are holding a promotional event called the “Wonder Islands Samui, Phangan, Tao” from March 11 to 17 in Bangkok. The event is expected to help stimulate the economy through package sales that are worth 20 million baht.

Ratchaporn says Songkran along with the promotional event should bring more tourists to the island, boosting hotel occupancy rates by 60 to 70% next month.

Meanwhile, the vice-president of the Koh Tao Tourism Associations says the government should offer as 50% subsidy for ferries to all island destinations. He says a subsidy would allow more Thais to visit the islands, with the hopes of boosting domestic tourism.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Gj

    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 9:34 am

    I commend the effort but reality is by the time vaccines have been rolled out across the world and have had time to cut COVID numbers, Thailand have vaccinated population, quarantine rules have been relaxed both at home and Thailand, won’t leave enough time for people in large numbers to book. And then their is the problem of the fact that in most countries peoples disposable income have been severely cut, even if they have a job.

  2. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Looks more and more like we will be able to visit quarantine free come October. Look for the other three prioritized tourist areas to follow suit.

  3. Avatar

    Panda

    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    Many come with fast critics on Thai gov and such. But let’s be honest. How many countries can pride themselves of handling the pandemic as Thailand has? Thailand is a wonderful country. I don’t believe any sub called democratic countries made it as good as Thailand did. Indeed times are not as glorious as they were, from certain points of views. However, is one to be blamed? From my experience here since a year, as a full timer, I simply love it even more. I love the creativity, the seeking for solutions to make things easier for all those who want to come and visit this country, while not forgetting the safety of others. Who dare say we are not in good hands!!!???
    As said previously, critic is easy, managing things in critical situation is another game.
    Talking is easy, acts and time talks by itself.
    Thailand I love you.
    Thank you.

  4. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 10:59 pm

    Panda you have to be joking surely.
    You are in, you would have a different opinion if you tried to get in.
    You are paying plenty and all Thais love you.
    Do the kids follow you in the street because you give them sweets?
    Try being as popular as a Burmese worker.
    Thailand has handled the pandemic terribly.
    Thais are committing suicide because they have no work.
    Drug use has gone up, Protesters are locked up, or disappear – killed probably.
    Even now with the whole world vaccinating millions, Thailand has only vaccinated 30.000.
    Call that handling the pandemic well?

  5. Avatar

    Bill

    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 2:17 am

    Let the bargirls flock to koh samui!

  6. Avatar

    John Applegate

    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 6:06 am

    No economy boost until no quarantine, really Thai numbers do not reflect covid reality

  7. Avatar

    Paul gibson

    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    Panda I think u must be a total numpty if u think Thais love u they love u for your money and why do u think Thailand is such a wonderful place u should think about how many people get beat up there like the farang women having a thai guy smash a bottle over her head or the old day pension being knock out by 4 thais guys or the Thais beating farang up I dont see u writing about how wonderful Thailand should think before u open your numpty mouth and if u think u are going to walk in to thailand just like at in October I think again I guarantee u need all the hoops and requirements at is 100% for sure

  8. Avatar

    Frank Strabeln

    Monday, March 15, 2021 at 9:32 am

    Amazing !!! In october one single flight with a whooping 70 passengers will be available from Bangkok to Ko Samui…every week ? Ko Samui will surely be booming with quality tourists…

  9. Avatar

    Tim

    Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 3:13 am

    As someone who is keen to come to Thailand as a tourist this year, once I am fully vaccinated, this sort of messaging is increasingly making me look at other destinations for later this year. I respect that it is an important decision for the government of Thailand to make, balancing safety against the need to support the economy but I am not getting the impression that I will be able to travel to Thailand as I would like this year and therefore starting to consider plans for other countries for my main holiday. I am happy to accept testing on whatever schedule and could probably accept up to 3 days of quarantine but beyond that, to attract a tourist such as myself, the country needs to effectively be fully open. These proposals will offer opportunity to attract tourists who are looking for a beach holiday, but they are often not the ones spending the most and as nice as the beaches and sea around Thailand is, there is a lot of competition from other countries.

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Koh Samui. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand’s Gulf islands not immune to 3rd wave as infections rise

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Thailand’s Gulf islands not immune to 3rd wave as infections rise | Thaiger
Stock photo via Flickr

Thailand’s 3rd wave of Covid is leaving no stones unturned, as it has recently spread to the Gulf Islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao. The Ministry of Public Health is reporting 83 new infections as of yesterday, April 16. A local blogger, Samui Info By Nicha’s Facebook page, has also detailed the new infections as the daily numbers are rising.

Thailand's Gulf islands not immune to 3rd wave as infections rise | News by Thaiger

Thailand's Gulf islands not immune to 3rd wave as infections rise | News by Thaiger

The other popular Gulf Islands of Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao are reporting 2 and 3 new infections respectively. All of the new infections on those 2 islands have been admitted to Koh Pha Ngan Hospital.

Thailand's Gulf islands not immune to 3rd wave as infections rise | News by Thaiger

The CCSA has placed Surat Thani province in the Orange Zone category, along with the rest of the provinces that are not listed in the Red Zone. Those provinces in the Orange Zones must adhere to nationwide restrictions along with closing restaurants by 11pm.

According to the PR Thai Government’s Facebook page, the nationwide measures are…
• No curfew but reduced travel and movements, particularly at night time from 23.00 hr to 04.00 hr
• No alcohol may be sold or consumed in restaurants
• The closure of all entertainment places, such as pubs and bars
• Any gathering of more than 50 people is prohibited
• All educational institutions will be closed for in-class learning, as well as amusement parks and indoor playgrounds
• All shopping malls must close at 21.00 hr
The Public Health Ministry in Surat Thani has also detailed a timeline of the new infections in Koh Samui. Popular places as The Secret Garden, Karma Beach Resort, Treehouse Restaurant, FitKoh gym, and The Shack, have seen visitors test positive for the Covid-19 virus. Details from the Public Health Ministry are below in Thai language.

Thailand's Gulf islands not immune to 3rd wave as infections rise | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile, despite Koh Samui planning on following Phuket’s Sandbox July reopening model, it looks like any reopening plans are being delayed due to the 3rd wave that has hit nationwide. Authorities say the 3rd wave’s epicentre is that of Bangkok’s nightlife venues, which have seen visitors to those areas spread the virus throughout the Kingdom.

Now, the health service is setting up emergency covid beds, a total of 90 in Surat Thani, 40 Samui and 50 Pha Ngan.

SOURCE: PR Surat Facebook/Samui Info By Nicha Facebook

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

25,000 people injected with Covid-19 vaccine this week in Koh Samui

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25,000 people injected with Covid-19 vaccine this week in Koh Samui | Thaiger
Photo via Facebook/เทศบาลนครเกาะสมุย

This week, 25,000 people in Koh Samui have been injected with the Covid-19 vaccine. The island plans to vaccinate 70% of its population by July to reach ‘herd immunity’ and reopen the tourist destination to vaccinated travellers, following the Phuket ‘sandbox’ model.

The vaccines were offered to the general public, including expats, at Rajabhat University, Bangkok Hospital Samui, Central Festival and Koh Samui Hospital. Yesterday was the last day for this round of injections, according to a post on the Koh Samui district Facebook page.

Reports from late last month say 50,000 doses were allocated to Koh Samui and a recent report from Pattaya News says another 50,000 doses would be distributed this week, vaccinating another 25,000 people on the island.

One expat, an English teacher on the island, says he waited 12 hours to get a vaccine at Rajabhat. He says luckily his school registered him and set him up with a queue ticket. But things were hectic, the queue numbers were called out in a random order and little to no information was given in English, he says.

The Tourism Association of Koh Samui plans to open up the island to foreign visitors in July, if everything goes to plan. Ideas for promotions are still up in the air, but the latest plan called “Samui Silk” would welcome vaccinated tourists who undergo a 7 day quarantine, the president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui said, according to Pattaya News.

“Both tourists and locals can be reassured that the reopening is safe under the Samui Silk route. The plan will allow foreign tourists to arrive in Koh Samui and to perform state quarantine for 7 days.

If the tourists are proved negative, then they are allowed to leave the local alternative state quarantine and to travel at designated locations in Samui while locals can be reassured that all tourists are disease-free.”

สมุยครบแล้ว 25,000 คน
ฉีดวัคซีนโควิด 19 รอบที่ 2

7 เมษายน 2564 เวลา 17.00 น. ณ โรงพยาบาลเกาะสมุย อำเภอเกาะสมุย…

Posted by เทศบาลนครเกาะสมุย on Wednesday, April 7, 2021

SOURCES: Koh Samui City Government | Pattaya News

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Tourism

Has the full moon set on Koh Pha Ngan’s Full Moon Party?

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Has the full moon set on Koh Pha Ngan’s Full Moon Party? | Thaiger

A full moon used to mean a full beach of party-goers along the Haad Rin strip on Thailand’s Koh Pha Ngan. But it hasn’t been like that for a year now as the Gulf of Thailand island waits out the restrictions and border closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The crowds of backpackers and revellers aren’t flocking to the monthly event and the shops, bars and cheap accommodation along the tourist strip are shuttered and locked – some of the shop owners and staff will never return.

What started as a back-packer and hippy off-the-beaten-track adventure in the 1980s, in recent years attracted a broader clientele. It’s still a difficult place to get to – either flying in to Koh Samui on the monopolised flights of Bangkok Airways and catching a ferry, or catching a ferry from the mainland of Surat Thani. Koh Pha Ngan now has a lot more to offer than just it’s monthly party of bass-thumping beats and buckets full of…. well we don’t really know what’s in them (neither did the people who drank them).

The sound system was loud, but not very good, security is almost non-existent, good DJs are patchy and there’s a general “it will be OK” attitude that pervades the organisation of the Full Moon Party. There have been different proposals put to the organisers over the years to bring the event up to international standard beach parties, but they’ve fallen by the wayside as the organisers argue “it it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Koh Pha Ngan’s monthly beach rave had its own special attraction despite any perceived or real quality lapses.

The south-east corner of the island actually has 2 Haad Rin beaches, one facing east for sunrises and the more famous, and longer, beach that hosts the monthly beach party.

Has the full moon set on Koh Pha Ngan's Full Moon Party? | News by ThaigerThere’s still a hippy vibe on the island with its numerous yoga and spa retreats but the businesses that remain are barely hanging on without the feature act that would book out most of the accommodation for the BIG night. The Full Moon Party attracted more than 50% of the one million visitors that headed to Koh Pha Ngan every year.

The party has also attracted plenty of bad publicity, as any huge beach party would – illicit drugs, alcohol abuse, sex crimes, the garbage left after each event. And even some cases of violence. But the vast majority of visitors to Thailand’s Full Moon Party just had a damn good time!

A year-long break has allowed some reflection after nearly 4 decades of growth and popularity of the party. Locals and local businesspeople are wondering if there could be a Koh Pha Ngan without the Full Moon Party. Has the island outgrown the one-trick-pony that WAS the monthly beach rave? Could a more sustainable economy be built around wellness, spas and diving?

The island is part of a trio off the coast of Surat Thani. Koh Samui is the largest and most popular. But Koh Tao and Kho Pha Ngan have had their own share of publicity. Koh Tao with its diving and, latterly, some bad world publicity surrounding a high profile murder case and other mysterious misadventures to tourists. Koh Pha Ngan had its big party, and in the last decade or so, some excellent retreats concentrating on wellness, yoga and relaxation.

But the three islands all suffer the same core problem – an airline monopoly that makes trips to the archipelago expensive. Sure, there are ferry services but they are not 100% reliable and can take day out of your itinerary with delays, blah blah. The 3 islands have thrived despite the tyranny of distance and inconvenience. But they could have become much more mainstream if there was an open skies policy for flights to the island or the ferry infrastructure was improved. Perhaps one of the allures of the 3 islands is that they ARE hard to get to?

Has the full moon set on Koh Pha Ngan's Full Moon Party? | News by Thaiger

MAP: Google Maps

But despite the retrospection from townsfolk and businesspeople on Koh Pha Ngan, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – the island simply cannot survive without the monthly tourist invasion, despite the challenges. Cutting off 20-30,000 monthly visitors, who usually stay for a few more days either side of the party, would be a fatal blow to the island’s economy in the long term.

But the 12 month’s rest for Haad Rin and the organisers will certainly bring some changes to the event. In the short term there will be mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines, a challenge for any alcohol-fuelled social gathering. And the problems of getting there will remain. But Koh Pha Nganians are sure that the event will not only survive but thrive once the tourists start coming again.

The locals are also sure there will be a greater appreciation for the island’s natural beauty and the other tourist assets that need the same amount of investment and attention as the monthly beach party. Cutting off the island’s main economic lifeline proved that Koh Pha Ngan needed to diversify its economy.

For now they’re not sure when the tourists will start flowing back and the party resume, maybe later this year or 2022, but the beach will still be there.

And the full moon will again set in the Gulf of Thailand as the partygoers glance westwards.

Has the full moon set on Koh Pha Ngan's Full Moon Party? | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Koh Samui Travel

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