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Koh Samui flights resume Wednesday despite Covid-19



PHOTO: Google

The Samui Plus international reopening plan has seen a fraction of the success of the Phuket Sandbox reopening and were hampered by the grounding of nearly all domestic flights in Thailand, despite an exception for Sandbox flights. Now the province that’s home to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao will continue the Samui Plus programme and expects flights to resume on Wednesday.

Bangkok Airways, which built and own the Koh Samui airport, operate an exclusive flight route between the two islands normally but had suspended service due to the spread of Covid-19 from August 3 to August 16 originally. That suspension was later extended to the end of the month.

Speaking on Friday, Surat Thani Governor Witchawut Jinto said that after a lot of pushing and pleading, flights were able to be resumed earlier. Bangkok Airways will operate flights on August 25, August 27, and August 30 to bring travellers from the Phuket Sandbox to Koh Samui.

Officials hope to see a boost in international tourists travelling to the islands with these flights, and the launch of the Sandbox 7+7 Extension plan that allows travellers to spend 7 days in Phuket and then their second 7 days in select locations in the 2 neighbouring provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi, or travel to the Gulf of Thailand islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao.

The Samui Plus programme has seen just 257 people travel from the Phuket Sandbox so far and just hit 400 total travellers since the reopening, but the governor says over 2,100 hotel nights had been booked from now until November with 168 confirmed visitors coming from France, Germany, the UK, The US, and Austria primarily, as well as Thai travellers. The average hotel booking is for nearly 13 nights.

Meanwhile, Samui had been struggling with bars seemingly allowed to open without restriction despite a national ban, with a cluster from the Black Bamboo Club infecting over 170 people. An illegal party that saw 24 people arrested yesterday at Villa Lamborghini Koh Samui has already resulted in 2 Covid-19 infections today, along with 1 infection from a Samui Plus traveller and 7 other local infections.

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

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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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