The rules are being somewhat relaxed when it comes to the Samui Plus re-opening model, following disappointing figures. Ratchaporn Poolsawadee from the Tourism Association of Koh Samui says that from October 1, vaccinated tourists only need to spend the first night in a SHA Plus hotel, until they get the result of their PCR test. Prior to this, international tourists were required to spend the first 3 nights in an expensive alternative quarantine facility.
The Bangkok Post reports that tourists will also be allowed to roam Samui and neighbouring Koh Phang Ngan and Koh Tao freely, without having to stick to a sealed route, as previously mandated. According to Ratchaporn, the medical costs have also been reduced from 15,000 baht per person to 8,000 baht, matching Phuket costs. It’s hoped these changes will boost tourist arrivals in the coming months.
“The programme that started on July 15 did not produce fruitful results. We need a makeover to become a quarantine-free destination with fewer restrictions to attract more demand and let more tourism operators benefit from the re-opening.”
Ratchaporn adds that other Thai destinations that plan to re-open should learn from Samui’s experience and understand that mandatory quarantine is a significant deterrent for tourists. He adds that in order to waive such a requirement, there must be buy-in from local residents, who need to feel confident in the process.
“We can proceed with changes this time because the tourism operators assured the local health authority and communities that more hotels will be converted to hospitels. In case of emergency, the whole sandbox area will have at least 500 beds for Covid-19 patients, up from 300 beds currently. Over 75% of our residents are also vaccinated, which is the important factor, but many provinces cannot achieve the same.”
Meanwhile, Surat Thani tourism officials are still pinning their hopes on Russia, with Ratchaporn saying large companies like Pegas Touristik are ready to operate charter flights from November, bringing around 1,000 tourists a month, provided air travel can resume between both countries.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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