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Krabi tourism operators call for vaccination ramp up, clarity on national park rules

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: A beach restaurant on Koh Lanta waits for the return of foreign tourists

With Krabi eyeing October 1 for a re-opening to vaccinated foreign tourists, operators in the region are calling for greater clarity and for vaccination to be ramped up. Ekawit Pinyotamanotai from the Krabi Tourism Association says tourism workers need to be prioritised for vaccination and there is a need for clarity on regulations governing national parks.

The Krabi sandbox model covers Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Ao Nang, and Railay Bay, which are all hoping to open to vaccinated travellers and reboot their decimated economies. The Bangkok Post reports that Ekawit is calling for a ramp-up of vaccination efforts in the region, saying this is crucial to rebuilding confidence among locals and tourists alike.

According to Ekawit, between 40,000 and 80,000 workers in the tourism sector in Ao Nang, Railay, Lanta, and Phi Phi need to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination. Krabi’s vaccine rollout is expected to kick off next month, with officials aiming to administer between 8,000 and 10,000 doses a day in the first stage.

Ekawit says there has been interest in the province from travel agents in Scandinavian countries, as well as Germany and the UK. However, with 90% of tourist attractions being located in areas designated as national parks, he points out that there is an urgent need for the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department to clarify the regulations applicable to these sites.

Furthermore, he says the sudden closure of places like Maya Bay make it extremely challenging for operators to plan itineraries in advance. He says that while operators appreciate a need for periods of rehabilitation, the department must implement more practical solutions to manage visitor capacity, including clarifying how long tourists can spend on islands and beaches.

“Operators agree natural resources need rehabilitation, but the closures require more clarification.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Krabi Tourism Association, Sasithorn Kittidhrakul, says businesses are calling for an extension to the domestic tourism stimulus package to cover low periods such as August and September. She points out that such an extension would give businesses in places like Koh Lanta a chance to make some money, given that they cannot open to international tourists until October.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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