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Tourism operators slam government as re-opening postponed to November

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr/Flutechill

Tourism operators have expressed frustration as Thailand’s re-opening is pushed back a month, primarily due to inadequate vaccination levels. The re-opening of Bangkok, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, and Phetchaburi has been postponed from October 1 to November 1. According to a Bangkok Post report, this is the third time the re-opening of Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Hua Hin has been delayed, with vaccine shortages being the reason given each time.

Thai Air Asia’s largest shareholder, Asia Aviation, has expressed frustration at the delay, with executive chairman Tassapon Bijleveld saying the flip-flopping is damaging the country’s reputation.

“Airlines had started to invest in service maintenance and recruit staff to prepare for a new flow of tourists. It costs a lot for any business to restart, particularly during a liquidity crisis when every baht counts.”

Tassapon has criticised the government for insufficient vaccine supplies in areas poised to re-open, adding that officials should have properly evaluated the curve of the pandemic and prepared risk management plans for each area before confirming a re-opening date.

“If the government announced earlier that the country would be ready for inbound tourists in December or even January, we would have no objection. We would have shifted our focus to the domestic market in the final quarter with full force. The flip-flop worsens a situation which is already somehow at its worst, particularly regarding our financial stability.”

Thanet Supornsahasrungsi from the Chon Buri Tourism Council agrees, pointing out that tourism operators in Pattaya have made all the preparations for an October re-opening, in line with government orders. He says the only thing they couldn’t do was provide residents with vaccines, as he too slammed the authorities for an inadequate vaccine rollout. He says the country’s reputation with overseas tour operators is ruined.

“Nobody will listen to us again. They will wait for an official announcement, which may occur in November at the earliest, too late to capture high-season traffic as international flights often need 2 – 3 months’ notice for air traffic permission. It also takes that long to promote those packages.”

For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, CLICK HERE.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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