No foreign tourists on first day of Samui reopening


Tourism operators on Surat Thanis resort islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao are ready for a slow return of foreign travellers from tomorrow (Thursday).

Only 11 foreigners – all members of the media – will take the Bangkok Airways flight from Bangkok to Samui on Thursday, according to the Koh Samui Tourism Promotion Association.

"We do not expect a lot of travellers to visit Thailand in the third quarter this year as the rise in the country's daily Covid-19 cases would affect their confidence," association chairman Ratchaporn Poolsawas said on Wednesday.

"However, what we can do is start tourist operations in line with standard procedure in a bid to stimulate the country's tourism."

He expects Thailand's Covid-19 caseload to fall in the fourth quarter, boosting confidence among Thai and foreign travellers.

Tourists arriving under the Samui Plus model from Thursday must stay in an Alternative Local Quarantine (ALQ) hotel on Koh Samui for seven days. After that, they can stay in an ALQ or SHA+ hotel on Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan or Koh Tao.

After the first three days on Samui, they can also travel across the island on sealed routes.

"Each room package includes charges for three RT-PCR Covid-19 tests and other services. Travellers will get a refund on the second and third tests if they stay less than 14 days," Ratchaporn said.

If the number of Covid-19 cases under the Samui+ Model rises over 20 within two weeks, the mandatory period of stay in an ALQ hotel will be extended to 14 days.

If the number of cases rises above 40 within two weeks, Covid measures will be tightened. Koh Samui disease control centre will decide whether the Samui+ Model needs to be suspended, said the chairman.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said 80 foreign travellers have booked Bangkok Airways seats from Bangkok to Samui between July and October this year.

Chattan Kunchorn na Ayudhya, TAT’s deputy governor of International Marketing (Asia and South Pacific), added that the 11 foreign travellers arriving on Thursday are all media representatives on a junket to test the Samui+ Model.

Four international travellers will arrive on Friday. Some 177 of Koh Samui’s 671 hotels have reopened.