Tourism operators on Koh Samui are urging the government to reconsider the suspension of the Test & Go entry scheme. Operators are also asking for a sandbox programme for Samui, demanding to know why this is currently limited to Phuket only. According to a Pattaya News report, operators have cited multiple cancellations of hotel bookings from foreign tourists who had been planning to visit.
The government suspended the Test & Go entry scheme, which has only a minimal quarantine requirement, over concerns about the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. Tourism operators on Koh Samui say the sudden suspension has left foreign tourists confused about how to get to the island.
Businesses have expressed frustration that they were only just starting to make some money following the country’s re-opening and now they’re being pushed back to square one. They say the government’s flip-flopping could result in tourists deciding to forego Thailand, which will have a long-term effect on tourism revenue.
Suparerk Thongsuk from the Surat Thani Tourism Council says this is the time of year foreign tourists want to escape the cold in their countries and travel to Thailand. He says the higher costs associated with getting to Samui via the Phuket sandbox model means tourists will go elsewhere and is calling on the government to act.
“We would like to refer this matter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to create mutual understanding and clarify about the suspension and the procedure to visit the country among foreign visitors. In this regard, the Tourism Council of Surat Thani Province has also submitted the matter to the Provincial Covid-19 Centre in order to pass this matter to the CCSA for consideration.”
Last week, business leaders in Chon Buri also called on the government to include Pattaya in the sandbox programme. They join a chorus of protest from various tourism destinations around the country where businesses have reacted with dismay to the government’s decision to suspend Test & Go and limit the sandbox scheme to Phuket only.
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SOURCE: The Pattaya News
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