Pattaya still eyes September reopening despite Covid-19 surge

PHOTO: Pattaya Move On aims to relaunch September 1, but Covid-19 stands in the way. (via Flickr)

The Pattaya Move On programme to reopen one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations to international travellers is facing an uphill battle as the Chon Buri province faces unrelenting growth in Covid-19 infections. Despite continued infections, the Chon Buri Tourism Council plans to push forward the reopening plan set to begin in September.

The province has recorded over 13,500 Covid-19 infections with over 5,000 active cases and 523 new infections reported today and is one of the major areas of concern in the country cited by Minister of Tourism and Sports Pipat Ratchakitprakan as places that should not be focusing on reopening now.

The ambitious plan gained a little traction this week as the Tourism Authority of Thailand endorsed the Pattaya Move On plan officially, clearing the way for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to earmark vaccines to work toward the 70% vaccination target for a chance at herd immunity. They aim to reach that figure for the 450,000 people living in Bang Lamung and Sattahip with the CCSA’s vaccine allocation.

The pressure to reopen Pattaya can be felt from failing businesses in the largely tourism-based economy there. Officials say only 20-30% of businesses remaining in Pattaya are open, and that’s after more than 40% of small and medium-sized tourism and related businesses have closed permanently, all due to the lockdowns and closed borders that have flattened tourism for nearly a year and a half.

The acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council admits that the plan is on shaky grounds and that officials will need to closely observe the Covid-19 situation in Pattaya and the province, and may be forced to postpone the reopening scheme if infections continue to rise or worsen.

But they are hoping for the best and believe if they can keep Covid-19 outbreaks at bay, they can welcome back travellers from eastern provinces with their industrial zones coming for business first, and then cast a wider net to rebuild general tourism. They are targeting numbers equal to 30% of Pattaya’s tourism figures pre-Coronavirus.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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