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Tourism operators: Russians and others need clear entry rules

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PHOTO: Tourism needs clear entry rules. (via Evan Krause Unsplash)

Fed up tourism operators in Thailand are calling on the government to stop flip-flopping and announce clear entry rules for international travellers right away before the high season is here, especially for the lucrative Russian market. Things like the Thailand Pass, set to replace the hated certificate of entry, are often announced but not fleshed out or confirmed, leading to confusion or lack of faith in being able to travel for sure.

Commercial and charter international flights are scheduled to be reinstated by the Russian government on November 9, but tour companies complain that they can’t sell packages or even schedule charter flights without a definitive and lasting set of Covid-19 regulations they can rely on.

The acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council warns that Russian travellers and others can’t make firm travel plans without the full terms and conditions of entry to Thailand and travel within the country being concrete.

He says that if rules and procedures aren’t nailed down for what the British media labelled the most complicated entry restrictions in the world, Russians and others will give up and spend what should be Thailand’s high season on holiday somewhere else that’s easier to get into.

The president of the Phang Nga Tourism Council agrees, saying Phuket usually gets around 800,000 Russian tourists a year and 10% of them visit Phang Nga. They are ready to create charter tours to Khoa Lak but are waiting for complex restrictions to be removed so tourists unwilling to jump through the hoops will finally be able to return.

Phang Nga recently reopened as a Sandbox location without a mandatory week in Phuket, as the 7+7 extension demanded, and saw the immediate effect of simplifying the process: in the first week of the reopening, they received 5,000 room night bookings, compared with 3,000 for the entire month of the 7+7 plan.

The Phang Nga Tourism president said hotel operators are watching the figure to decide if they will reopen on November 1, with international restrictions lifted, and the We Travel Together domestic subsidy plan predicting a raise in occupancy from 10% to 30%, or more in the fourth quarter of 2021.

But they still need consistency, calling on the government to create simple and clear rules and confirm them with publication in the Royal Gazette now, instead of waiting until the day before reopening, as is usually the case. Until then, unsure tourists are flocking to alternate destinations like the Maldives, the Caribbean, or Greece, where restrictions are consistent and easy.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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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