Tourism operators are urging the Thai government to issue clear and definitive entry regulations for foreigners as soon as possible or the country stands to lose out on lucrative markets in the high season.

The lack of clarity includes the absence of a list of so-called low risk countries, details of the Thailand Pass and testing arrangements/requirements upon entry. 

Amongst others, Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, acting president of the Chonburi Tourism Council, said tour operators cannot sell packages nor operate charter flights here without clear regulations.

He said if the government plans to replace the certificate of entry (CoE) system with the Thailand Pass, tour operators need to know more details about the new system to prepare their operations in advance.

“If complete travel requirements are not announced soon, the country might lose the chance to welcome the Russian market this high season, as they will choose destinations with more convenient entry,” Mr Thanet said.

Pongsakorn Ketprapakorn, president of the Tourism Council of Phangnga, said travel agents are ready to arrange charter flights to Khao Lak once hurdles are cleared, including the withdrawal of the CoE program, as tourists don’t want to deal with the cumbersome process.

He said Phangnga tourism is depending on the Russian market from Phuket, as the island was accustomed to welcoming 800,000 Russians via charter flights per year prior to the pandemic, of which 80,000 visited Phangnga.

Since Phangnga has been allowed to receive tourists directly from Oct 1 without waiting for the seven-day mandatory quarantine in Phuket, around 5,000 room nights have been booked, surpassing the whole month of the 7+7 extension program, which tallied only 3,000 room nights.

A wider reopening for low-risk origin countries, greater relaxation of requirements for the international market and domestic trips under the We Travel Together hotel subsidy campaign should raise the overall occupancy rate from 10% to 30-35% in the last quarter, said Mr Pongsakorn.

He said more hoteliers are planning to reopen on Nov 1, when the whole province is expected to open to international visitors, if the vaccination rate reaches 70% by the end of this month as predicted.

Lodging operators still have to monitor demand closely before making such a decision, said Mr Pongsakorn.

“The government has to implement clear regulations on its quarantine-free reopening plan on Nov 1, publishing them in the Royal Gazette soon to help tourists make decisions,” said Danny Sukomol, deputy managing director at Santhiya Resorts and Spa.