Koh Samui tourism operators want cheaper flights to lure tourists

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

Koh Samui needs more visitors, from anywhere. A number of hotels on the island, one of Thailand’s popular tourist destinations hit by the pandemic-induced travel bans, are certified for alternative local state quarantine, or ALSQ, and now tourism officials are looking to lure travellers in with cheaper flights.

Getting the prices lower could be difficult. President of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, Vorasit Pongkumpunt, says both the airport and pier are owned by the private sector (in the car of the Airport, Bangkok Airways). Their monopoly has kept the cost of air fares to Samui inordinately high, when compared to most other air travel costs around the country.

“We want the government to find any practical solutions to help travellers visiting Samui with cheaper transport costs… Unfortunately, all entry points to the island – both airport and pier – are owned by the private sector. Bargaining for price reduction is hard.”

Tourism operators talk about the idea of lowering flight costs at a meeting next month focused on tourism stimulus plans for the southern provinces Phuket and Surat Thani, which includes Koh Samui. Vorasit says the island is ready to welcome international travellers on the new Special Tourist Visa.

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A number of the island’s hotels, including 5-star resorts, on the island have been approved as ALSQ facilities and Koh Samui is now at healthcare capacity, Vorasit says.

4 luxury reports on the island, owned by Asset World Corp, a developer under the Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s TCC Group, are certified as ALSQ facilities. The hotels have trained staff and partnered with hospitals, according to the property developer’s chief hospitality group officer, Stephan Vanden Auweele. The hotels have also been inspected by authorities, but the Bangkok Post says the operators still want clarity about the Special Tourist Visa scheme.

While many tourist destinations have been preparing for potential visitors on the Special Tourist Visa scheme, plans have been sketchy, to say the least. A flight scheduled for earlier this month was delayed, with some saying it was postponed and scheduled to arrive after the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. Thailand’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced a few days later that no one in Guangzhou, China had actually applied for the visa. A group of visitors are now scheduled to arrive in Bangkok tomorrow.

The ban on international tourists has been in place for the past 6 months. Stephan says lifting border restrictions is important and tourism operators need the foreign visitors to survive.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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