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Pattaya officials concerned high costs of Covid tests will deter foreign tourists

Maya Taylor

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Pattaya in its pre-pandemic heyday. PHOTO: Lin Kiu on Unsplash

Tourism officials in Pattaya are concerned that the demands being made of foreign tourists, including multiple costly Covid tests, will put people off visiting. Pattaya hopes to re-open quarantine-free under a sealed route scheme, but Thanet Supornsahasrungsi from the Chon Buri Tourism Council has expressed concern about the costs involved for visitors.

The Bangkok Post reports that Pattaya is eyeing Russia and India as potential tourism markets, as well as foreigners who own condos in Pattaya or have family or businesses there. However, Thanet says a discussion with Russian tour operator, Pegas Touristik, revealed that the current costs of arriving in Thailand as a foreigner could be a significant deterrent. Foreign tourists are required to take 3 PCR tests, costing 8,500 baht, as well as paying 3,000 – 5,000 baht for Covid-19 insurance.

To address the costs, tourism operators are now proposing that tests 1 and 2 be done with the cheaper antigen test kits, with the PCR test reserved for the third and final test before tourists are free to travel elsewhere in the country. Thanet says that the costs associated with visiting Thailand in the current climate make it more expensive than other destinations popular with Russians, including Turkey, Egypt, and Venezuela.

“We have to balance public health safety measures and tourism marketing to allow the re-opening plans to gain more competitiveness.”

Meanwhile, Pattaya’s standard operating procedures for re-opening have been approved by the provincial communicable disease committee and will be submitted to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration next week. Under the SOPs, foreign tourists can travel on sealed routes following their first negative Covid-19 test after arrival. They will be required to stay at designated facilities with the SHA Plus accreditation.

However, Thanet points out that vaccination of local residents is lagging far behind what’s required, with only around 37% vaccinated. He says the government must prioritise the vaccine rollout in the districts of Bang Lamung and Sattahip ahead of them re-opening next month.

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

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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