Registration for entering Thailand under the “Samui Plus” reopening scheme is planned to open this week. Similar to the Phuket “Sandbox,” the program will allow foreign tourists who are vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel to the trio of islands in the Gulf of Thailand off the Surat Thani coast. Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao are planned to reopen under the scheme on July 15.
The “Samui Plus” scheme needs to be approved this week by a Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration sub-committee before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can begin the registration process for the Certificates of Entry, or COEs, according to the National News Bureau of Thailand.
Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn says 1,000 foreign tourists are expected to arrive under the “Samui Plus” model in the first 30 days of the reopening scheme, generating at least 100 million baht, according to the government’s news bureau. In the first 4 days of the Phuket “Sandbox,” there were a total of 1,416 foreign arrivals.
Flight to Samui via Bangkok are reported to become available three times a day with discussions about direct flights with several internatonal airlines underway.
Under the “Samui Plus” model, vaccinated tourists are required to remain on Koh Samui for the first 7 days of their stay. Tourists will be tested for Covid-19 on their first day on the island. They must stay at their hotel or resort for the first 3 days. They can travel on a “sealed route” for the rest of the week, most likely with a tour guide to specified destinations and on planned excursions.
After a week on Koh Samui, and a negative Covid-19 test, tourists can travel freely to the neighbouring islands of Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao. After 14 days, and a negative Covid-19 test, tourists can travel throughout Thailand.
EDITOR’S COMMENT – TIME TO PLAN FOR A ROYAL COAST REVIVAL
The next step in this tourism revival is for the Royal Coast to be able to welcome vaccinated tourists; both international and domestic travellers. This will be dependent on vaccine rollouts and barring any major infection breakouts in the early location openings. All things going well, a mid-October opening, without an early confirmation, seems likely.
The possibility that the Hua Hin International Airport may attract direct overseas flights to coincide with this revival remains on the drawing board; with those in the know optimistic this will happen.
This is a timely reminder to regional entrepreneurs that it’s time to look at offering potential travellers advance notice that there will be some big events awaiting their arrival. That planning can’t wait until a week or two before the proposed reopening date.
There is a major golf tournament and a big cycling tour event planned for October, but we’re hoping that some forward planning may see the return of other popular events. For example, a Hua Hin Food Festival and the International Jazz Festival; but much more innovation and diversity is needed.
One of the preferences of tourists is to experience authentic cultural events and attractions. With the outstanding appeal of the region’s royal history, a celebration of this history seems an obvious way to provide this experience. One suggestion has been that Rajabhakti Park could become the venue for such a significant event; a sound and lights extravaganza!
Planning ahead with coordination, a calender of coming events and timely promotion has not been a strong point in the past. It’s a frequent complaint from locals that they aren’t informed about coming events. The local media, including the Royal Coast Review, often shares that frustration.
Now is the time to plan ahead for a Royal Coast tourism revival, a big opportunity for promotion to show how our region can be at the forefront of a comeback for Thailand tourism.
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