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Slow start for “Samui Plus” reopening, only 33 seats booked for this month

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While the “Samui Plus” reopening plan is set to start tomorrow, it might be more of a “soft” reopening. Only 33 airline seats are booked for this month and tourism officials say it will be a few months before the islands see an influx of international arrivals.

Similar to the “Phuket Sandbox,” the scheme allows the trio of islands in the Gulf of Thailand to reopen to foreign tourists who are vaccinated against Covid-19. But with an uptick in daily Covid-19 cases, as well as delays in issuing the required Certificate of Entry, or COE, for travellers, the reopening plan will have a slow start. Strict measures are also in place to help prevent the spread of the virus on Surat Thani islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao.

Only 33 seats are booked this month. 20 seats are booked in August, 10 in September and 17 in October, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Tomorrow, 11 media outlets from the UK, France, Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong will enter under the scheme. Only 4 travellers from Japan and Taiwan will enter on Friday.

It will be about 1-2 months to build awareness about the scheme, according to the president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, Ratchaporn Poolsawade. Travel agents have been waiting for clear regulations on the scheme before they start marketing and Ratchaporn says they need to test the customer experience.

“We do not expect an influx of international travellers in the third quarter because the country is still dealing with a high number of cases… Samui Plus aims to test the waters and prepare operators for more tourists when tourism rebounds.”

Unlike the Phuket Sandbox, allowing tourists to freely travel the island after being screened for the virus, travellers entering under the Samui Plus scheme will need to stay at their hotel for the first week and they will not be able to drink alcohol during that time. At the end of the week, they can travel freely on Koh Samui as well as the neighbouring islands of Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan. After 14 days, they can travel throughout Thailand.

Those entering under the scheme will need to stay at an approved resort for the first week. There are 19 hotels on the island approved as Area Quarantine facilities to house tourists during their first 7 days on the island. A week stay can range from 35,000 baht to 100,000 baht, Ratchaporn says, adding that the prices include 16,000 baht in medical fees and 3 swab Covid-19 tests, which are required. Those who stay less than 14 days will be refunded the swab test fees which cost 4,000 baht for the first, 6,000 baht for the second and 8,000 baht for the third.

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

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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