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Samui tourism operators push for faster vaccination programme

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Rebecca Cairns on Unsplash

Tourism operators on the island of Samui are calling for the national vaccine rollout to be accelerated, in a bid to re-start international tourism by the third quarter of 2021. Ratchaporn Poolsawadee from the Tourism Association of Koh Samui says domestic tourism alone cannot support the sector and it won’t recover without a vaccination programme.

He adds that despite the fact that Thailand has a very low number of Covid-19 cases, the slow vaccine rollout will affect tourists’ confidence in the country. In order to show the international tourism market that Thailand is ready, the government must secure enough jabs and vaccinate its population, thereby ensuring both locals and foreign visitors have immunity.

In 2020, around 400,000 tourists visited Samui. Prior to Covid-19, the island welcomed 2.5 million visitors, of which only 17% were domestic tourists. Hotels on the island are now taking bookings for the third quarter of this year, according to Ratchaporn, with guests from countries like the UK and Germany already booking for September and October.

The Tourism Association of Koh Samui will launch a promotional campaign for the island next month. The Samui Journey will market new tourism sites and things to do away from the beaches, in the hope of persuading tourists to stay longer and boost expenditure.

Meanwhile, Ratchaporn says that, in addition to speeding up its vaccination programme, the government needs to provide financial support to businesses in the tourism sector. He suggests a reduction in water and electricity bills, and a debt holiday of 6 – 12 months. Of the island’s 1,000 hotels, fewer than 200 are still operating and occupancy rates are below 10% since the resurgence of the virus late last year.

The Bangkok Post reports that around 5% of hotel owners have decided to sell up and the others have no plans to re-open unless there is enough international demand to justify it.

For now, Ruengnam Chaikwang from the Thai Hotels Association says operators hope to welcome foreign tourists who have been vaccinated and for whom quarantine has been waived. With this in mind, they are pressing ahead with marketing campaigns aimed at the third quarter of the year.

“We are more optimistic that tourists can visit the country by the third quarter.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar


    Saturday, February 13, 2021 at 10:01 am

    Yes that’s a good news for tour related everyone, at least there’s a target timeline from September 2021 onward.
    Hopefully tourists will able to make their plans accordingly.

    • Avatar


      Saturday, February 13, 2021 at 1:56 pm

      Many targets thrown out and none achieved yet, every days or week we get a new eruction, meanwhile, the industry dying and jobless increasing, while samui with a small territory and its international airport could work easily a safe policy without quarantine saving its population from emigrating & keep jobs, + dont become a field of ruins

  2. Avatar


    Saturday, February 13, 2021 at 10:02 am

    “ Hotels on the island are now taking bookings for the third quarter” – sounds like they are getting ahead of themselves but I like the optimism. Look for other tourist hot spots to follow suit, along with more calls for targeted vaccination priority to tourism employees.

  3. Avatar


    Saturday, February 13, 2021 at 10:54 am

    Tourists in general will not travel, certainly not in big numbers, while they have to quarantine both in Thailand ,and also for many, when they return home.

  4. Avatar

    Issan John

    Saturday, February 13, 2021 at 2:20 pm

    A “faster vaccination programme” … “the slow vaccine rollout” …

    You can’t get any slower since it hasn’t even started.

    While there’s every indication that Thais have accepted the effects of the border closures as a sad but unfortunate necessity despite the effects on the economy and personal incomes, there’s also every indication that Thais at every level see a mass vaccination programme as the only way out of their economic woes.

    I try to avoid giving an opinion as I find it easier to stick to facts, even if some people don’t like them, but in my view the current government’s far more likely to be forced out, and constitutional changes made, if the vaccination rollout doesn’t happen soon, effectively, than by any demonstrations and “democratic” protests.

    The vaccine roll out is widely seen as the only solution, in my view FWIW correctly, and not only the general population but big business will be (and are)looking for someone to blame if it doesn’t happen and it’s becoming clearer by the day who’s likely to be held responsible.

    • Avatar

      Jilted John

      Sunday, February 14, 2021 at 4:44 pm

      Which part of your post has anything to do the current situation of the lack of tourism on the island of Koh Samui?

  5. Avatar


    Saturday, February 13, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    It seems as if every country, with the exception of Israel, has been criticized for a slow vaccination rollout. Everyone wants it yesterday and yes it appears to be the only path out of this mess. In the USA our new administration is starting to open things up with more supply and the states are starting to create more distribution channels similar to how flu vaccine is distributed. They’re now reporting in the news ANYONE that wants the vaccine will be able to get their first jab in April at the latest.

    Watch the stocks of Moderna and BioNTech (Pfizer vaccine partner). They’ve continued to go up which is a sign of effectiveness against all new variants. People that bet their money on these companies hire experts that assess these things and if the variants were a problem these stocks would be going down significantly. Same with side effects. Any problems would be reflected in the stock prices of these two companies. The same would apply to Astra Zeneca, J&J, Novavax, etc. Follow the money…and not fake news and opinion.

    Thailand has a good shot at getting most of their population vaccinated in 2021 if they move as fast as they can and pressure from tourism groups can’t hurt. Also peer pressure as there countries around them start vaccinating. Can’t lose face after all.

    • Avatar

      J West

      Monday, February 15, 2021 at 2:41 pm

      The reason so many governments are being soundly criticized for a generalized incompetance in vaccine rollout is that these governments have been slow and incompetance. They are deserving of whatever consequence befalls them.

      The cheerleaders for Bidens flaccid rollout are laughable. It was recently reported that Bidens program might take 7.4 years to vaccinate all Americans.

      Countries like Canada and Mexico are Covid killing fields, many countries who entered too quickly have just as suddenly locked down again.

      At the same time the South African, Nigerian, Brazillian and UK/Kent variants have proven immune to every vaccine. Covid is slaughtering Africans wholesale. They have zero protection.

      Wishful thinking for remaining Thai tourist operators. The obvious problem is not Covid immunizations in Thailand , it’s the fact that finally Covid cases are increasing. What good to Thai if only Thai consumers tour Thai? As stated Thai are only 17% of the trade.

      Honestly, I think people should chill. It will come back when it does, not before. The likelihood of a September opening is as laughable as the current government being overthrown by a group of disorganized children.

      And Ben….PS, investors aren’t banking in Vaccine Manufacturers success, they are speculating in their failure. After all, if the vaccine is successful, the companies profits will peter out, whereas if they spend years sucking in more government billions, those stocks will show profit. Stock markets are a forecasting mechanism, not a read on current status.

  6. Avatar

    London Al

    Saturday, February 13, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    There is no need to wait until the whole population has been vaccinated, once they’ve done the over 60s and the unhealthy then the problem is to a very large extent sorted, it will be impossible to prevent some deaths from Covid just as it is the myriad of other reasons people die, here in Gilead (UK) it seems like it’s ok to die from absolutely anything as long as it’s not Covid.

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