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Hua Hin reopening could hurt bigger domestic tourism market

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Hua Hin reopening may hurt the much larger domestic tourism market. (via QUI Unsplash)

With Covid-19 restrictions being eased a bit and allowing for some domestic movement, Hua Hin has seen an influx of Thai domestic travellers coming for a much-needed holiday. The seaside town in Prachuap Khiri Khan province is seeing a boom but the Vice President of the Thai Hotels Association is advising that the planned reopening for foreigners may do more harm than good and advised delaying the Hua Hin Sandbox-style reopening.

The Hua Hin Recharge was planned for October 1, and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration will consider green-lighting the programme soon. But Hua Hin has always been a bigger draw for Thai people looking for a getaway than for foreign tourists. The THA fears that domestic tourists will be scared away by the international reopening plan, similar to the Phuket Sandbox which doesn’t require a full quarantine, but calls for multiple RT-PCR tests and limits the scope of travel for new arrivals.

Domestic Thai tourism has long made up 75% of all tourist revenue in Hua Hin and many fear that the October 1 reopening that hopes to bring a few hundred foreigners back will drive away thousands of domestic tourists. October is a school break time and traditionally a high season as many flock to Hua Hin, an easy trek from Bangkok, for a weekender or short holiday.

The THA suggests letting Thai holiday-goers enjoy their high season and support the tourism economy in Hua Hin by pushing back the international reopening date to December, after the Thai high season. The end of the year will attract the “snowbird” crowd – those who fly south to warmer climates for the winter from places like Germany, the UK, France, Switzerland, and Scandinavia.

Predictions for the schedule the THA suggested hopes to see 1 billion baht a month generated by the Thai domestic high season, especially if travel stimulus programmes like Rao Tiew Duay Kan and Tour Tiew Thai are extended. Then the international reopening is predicted to bring 1.2 billion baht in 3 months later.

They also suggest that Hua Hin an Cha-am should be re-opened simultaneously as many travellers hop between the 2. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha had promised that by mid-October the whole country would be reopened to international tourism, but during the censure debates he said that only some areas may reopen with Covid-19 still hindering a full reopening.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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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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