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Struggling Samui seeks government help

Jack Burton

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Struggling Samui seeks government help | The Thaiger
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Desperate for tourism revenue during the ongoing travel ban and with not more than a dribble of domestic visitors, the president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui says he needs to meet with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to come up with guidelines to allow foreign tourists to visit Samui. And soon.

Worasit Phong-amphan says Samui saw 2.3 million tourists in 2019, but there are virtually none now because of the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including banning general tourist traffic indefinitely.

Worasit will represent tourism business operators on Koh Samui at the meeting with the CCSA this Wednesday. He spoke at a recent forum between entrepreneurs on the Gulf of Thailand island and the Immigration Bureau about new standard operating procedures during the Covid-19 crisis. He said tourism businesses are ready to welcome back foreign tourists, though none are arriving due to the ongoing ban on foreign arrivals, other than some bespoke categories.

He proposes that foreign tourists be required to be quarantined at a hotel for 14 days before they can leave the grounds, if found to be uninfected. Eligible foreign tourists would have to travel to Thailand with Thai Airways and undergo swab testing once they arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport. They could then take a flight to Samui without going through a second immigration process.

Worasit’s proposal, born out of sheer desperation, supposes that tourists would want to sit out an expensive 14 day quarantine before they are able to then continue on their tour, with many shops and attractions still closed. The cost of flights will also be prohibitive in the early phases of the ‘opening up phase’ due to the limited flights. The pre-flight paperwork will also form an additional barrier to any large numbers heading to Thailand in the short-term.

But Worasit persisted… “If a tourist tests negative for 7 days, they could leave their room, but not the hotel. After 14 days, they would be allowed to travel outside with a special wristband for tracking.”

Worasit also called on the government to work with Thai Airways to provide discounted air tickets for foreign tourists. But Thai Airways, currently embroiled in a multi-level restructuring and bankruptcy procedure, is not well placed to be offering discount flights at this time.

“Samui today has no tourists, Thai or foreign, and all types of businesses are still seriously affected by the virus despite the government’s measures to help domestic tourists pay for hotel stays. At the same time, local entrepreneurs must rely on the only airline that provides direct flights to Samui (Bangkok Airways). The Samui airport’s flight monopoly makes fares expensive, even during this period when the government is promoting domestic tourism.

According to 1 hotelier…

“One of our hopes is the construction of a 17 kilometre bridge to connect the mainland in Nakhon Si Thammarat to Koh Samui. This is the shortest way to reach Samui. Hotels with combined 40,000 rooms are pinning their hopes on the bridge. Now the local businesses and people are raising a petition to the province to build the bridge.”

The Thaiger considers that the 17 kilometres of road, linking the mainland to Koh Samui, for now, is a bridge too far.

By the way, fares from Bangkok to Samui, on Bangkok Airways, booking for next week, were full fare 5,400 baht each way with some discounted flights down to 2,400 baht, per trip.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    August 16, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Build a 17 kilometre bridge!
    The Thais could not do that. They will have to invite a felang company to do that.
    The Thais can be the labourers.
    The British built the Memorial bridge in Bangkok.
    I would like to know if the Thais have ever built a large bridge without foreign contractors. Perhaps someone will enlighten me.
    As for the invitation to fly to Samui only on Thai airways, and then stay in the hotel for 14 days, before being allowed out.
    I quote the tennis player: You cannot be serious!!

    • Avatar

      Nunya

      August 17, 2020 at 3:48 am

      Desperate and disconnected. This is a textbook example why you don’t let Scientists and Physicians run a country.

    • Avatar

      Jim

      August 22, 2020 at 4:21 pm

      “Exactly,” the whole idea is absurd. Who, in their right mind would spend 14 days imprisoned in a hotel and consider it a vacation!!

  2. Avatar

    Rinky Stingpiece

    August 16, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    The gentleman’s analysis of what it would take to both satisfy the ncov protocols and get tourists to Samui rather reveals the impracticality of the suggestion.
    The cost of some ASQ hotel and insurance alone is more than many tourists would spend on a holiday. Most would not choose to fly all that way to sit in a hotel for 2 weeks – that’s usually how long they get for a holiday.
    The bureaucracy needed to even get to that point is a massive disincentive for most people.
    Until the numbers allowed in per day, and numbers of flights is increased, it seems like a non-starter. A series of bottlenecks really.
    It’s hard to see any change to that policy for many months. I suspect they are well aware of it.

  3. Avatar

    T. Shocki

    August 16, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    These ideas are completely off target. They show how desperate these people are. They have to face a totally new situation and are unable to cope with it. Thais are so nationalistic that they think this is enough to save them. Not in a globalized world I am afraid. I was about to buy land in Koh Samui for retirement. Covid revealed the real face of this country. I am of course sad. I had greater hopes for that region having worked there 20 years ago.

  4. Avatar

    Matt M

    August 16, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    All of these proposals relying heavily on foreign tourists to just flock in numbers with such strict rules and measures in place is completely unrealistic. No one wants to have a 14 day wait at huge cost to themselves and then have visa restrictions allowing them only a few weeks stay. The visa situation needs to change to allow for people visiting to stay longer as they will also face quarantine restrictions when returning home.

  5. Avatar

    Andreas

    August 16, 2020 at 7:16 pm

    Beyond ridiculous! Which tourists from where would want to go on vacation where they first have to be locked up for 2 weeks? Especially if the vacation normally only lasts 2 to a maximum of 3 weeks …

  6. Avatar

    Joseph Noble

    August 18, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    I have friends who would be willing to visit for 6 month stays under those conditions, but not with the requirement of having to stay in a hotel.

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Koh Samui

23 Koh Samui hotels seek alternative state quarantine certification

Caitlin Ashworth

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23 Koh Samui hotels seek alternative state quarantine certification | The Thaiger
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Nearly 2 dozen hotels and resorts in the Thai Gulf island resort of Koh Samui are seeking certification to be alternative state quarantine facilities. Talk of a potential travel bubble scheme to the island is also set for today, the Nation Thailand reports.

8 of the 23 hotels have already gone through a government check and the rest will be checked in October, according to the Thai Hotels Association Southern Chapter East Coast. If all the hotels are approved, 1,000 rooms would be available, according to the Tourism Association of Koh Samui. They expect 90% of the hotels to be approved for state quarantine and predict around 200 international tourists to be in the first wave of visitors.

The 23 hotels on the island seeking the certification are a fair distance away from the main streets and local neighbourhoods, according to the Thai Hotels Association’s president Ruengnam Chiakwang. He says the locations make it difficult for tourists to run off during their mandatory quarantine and around 1,000 surveillance cameras are installed around the island, so officials will have an eye out.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, or CCSA, is expected to talk with private representatives today about a travel bubble scheme to Koh Samui, according to the Nation. Past discussions of so called travel bubbles proposed foreign tourists from countries considered to be at low-risk for Covid-19 to be allowed to travel to select areas in Thailand. The island has a private airport owned and operated by Bangkok Airways who have traditionally charged unreasonably high air fares, compared to other flight in Thailand, for flights to the island.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Koh Samui

Raja salvage operation resumes, garbage truck, pick-up raised from seabed

Maya Taylor

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Raja salvage operation resumes, garbage truck, pick-up raised from seabed | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

An operation to raise the sunken Raja 4 ferry and its cargo of vehicles from the seabed off Koh Samui has resumed, after being delayed due to bad weather. The ferry sank on the night of August 1 as it was transporting several garbage trucks from Samui to the mainland. The ferry had set sail in bad weather and capsized when its cargo of trucks shifted during the crossing. 5 of the 16 people on board died in the accident.

Having first been suspended briefly due to bad weather a couple of weeks ago, and more recently due to storm Noul, the salvage operation is once more underway, with workers removing an 18-wheel truck and a pick-up from the seabed.

Nation Thailand reports that operators MS Service have been using 2 cranes, installed on 2 boats, to carry out the salvage operation. Prior to being lifted, the garbage truck was covered in netting, to prevent any further refuse from entering the water. Small boats were also used to pick up any rubbish that managed to escape the netting.

The Ministry of National Resources and the Environment has previously threatened to sue the ferry company over the environmental fallout from the ferry’s capsize. The ferry itself is yet to be lifted from the seabed.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Weather

Heavy rain across the country this weekend – local forecasts

The Thaiger

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Heavy rain across the country this weekend – local forecasts | The Thaiger

Heavy rain is expected across much of Thailand over the next few days, mostly as a result of the intensity of a tropical storm crossing into Vietnam today, ‘Noul’, from the South China Sea. The low pressure cell will help intensify the effects of the south west monsoon too. But the remnants of the storm won’t “slam” into Northern Thailand as one news site claimed – rather it will be a lot of rain and increased winds. The storm is expected to cross into Thailand around the Mukdahan province some time early tomorrow,

Around the country, Saturday will be the worst with rains easing during Sunday. Thailand north east ‘Isaan’ provinces will be the worst affected as they are in the direct track of the storm as it crosses Vietnam, into Laos, and then crossing Thailand’s borders in the upper north east in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Whilst tropical storm ‘Noul’ has been packing winds from 80 – 120 kilometres per hour as it reaches the central Vietnam coast areas, including popular tourist locations like Da Nang and Hoi An, the storm will continue to dissipate as it moves inland. The storm has been tracking across the South China Sea this week, gathering strength, in a west northwesterly direction.

Residents in the coastal town of Hoi An report that it rained continuously last night, with strong winds, and that they expect widespread flooding to be reported during the day.

The forecast for heavy rain in Bangkok will probably dampen some of the enthusiasm for tomorrow’s anti-government rally to be held in and around the Thammasat University Tha Prachan campus.

Here are the forecasts for Saturday and Sunday around the country…

Bangkok

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Phuket

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Chiang Mai

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Pattaya

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Khon Kaen

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Koh Samui

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Read more about Thailand’s annual monsoons HERE.

SOURCE: weather.com

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