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“Pattaya Move On” reopening likely to be postponed as Covid cases surge

Tanutam Thawan

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Stock photo by Sung Shin for Unsplash

With Chon Buri ranking as one of the top provinces with the highest number of daily Covid-19 infections, the “Pattaya Move On” reopening plan will likely be delayed due to the rise in cases and slow rollout of vaccines.

September was the eyed start date for the reopening plan for specified areas in Chon Buri. The project is similar to the “Phuket Sandbox” model allowing travellers from overseas, who are vaccinated against Covid-19, to enter without undergoing a 14-day quarantine. But that start date is likely to be pushed back, according to the acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, Thanet Supornsahasrungsi.

“We might not be able to open as scheduled if the province cannot build herd immunity by the deadline. Even if we did reopen, no tourists would visit us if there’s a widespread pandemic or poor tourist sentiment.”

Chon Buri is classified as a “dark red” zone under maximum and strict control to combat the coronavirus. Tight measures are imposed including a ban on interprovincial public transportation services, a nightly curfew, and business closures. Today, Chon Buri reported 1,359 new Covid-19 cases, ranking it as one of the top provinces with the highest number of new Covid-19 transmissions.

Phuket opened to vaccinated travellers from overseas on July 1, but since the rise of Covid-19 cases and the emergence of the Delta variant, strict disease control measures have been put in place to contain the virus. The island province is now “sealed off” to domestic travellers. All domestic entry by land, sea and air is prohibited for the next two weeks, with the exception of emergency vehicles and essential deliveries. While those arriving under the “Sandbox” model are still allowed to enter, Thanet says the tight restrictions on the island is discouraging potential travellers.

“Some may say short-haul destinations like Pattaya will benefit from the domestic market once local tourists are allowed to travel. But people are not taking leisure trips for the time being as they have weaker purchasing power… This is the most critical problem for our economy.”

Chon Buri, which includes Pattaya, has been struggling during the pandemic due to the lack of foreign tourists. The well-known Walking Street has been compared to the “Walking Dead,” a zombie apocalypse graphic novel series and TV show. Many businesses have closed. Some bar girls have been live streaming for tips on YouTube.

Back in 2019, the coastal province drew in 276 billion baht in tourism income from 18.6 million visitors. With the halt on international tourism due to the pandemic, last year the income fell to 66 billion baht and the province only welcomed 6.97 million visitors. Now, tourism operators in Pattaya aim to earn 30% of the revenue earned in 2019 during the upcoming high season, which starts around November.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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