Koh Samui receives first foreign travellers in more than a year
The first batch of foreigner travellers under the Samui Plus model touched down at Koh Samui International Airport at 11.35am on Thursday.
However, all foreign nationals on board the flight from Bangkok were journalists rather than tourists, as the reopening of Surat Thani’s resort island got off to a slow start.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will preside over the Samui Plus opening ceremony in a videoconference at 6pm. Also expected at the conference are Phiphat, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn, Surat Thani Governor Witchawut Jinto and Koh Samui Tourism Promotion Association chairman Ratchaporn Poolsawas.
Samui is the second tourist island to reopen after Phuket invited back foreign travellers on July 1, kickstarting Thailand’s tourism industry after more than a year of Covid travel restrictions.
Bangkok Airways will operate three flights per day from Bangkok to Samui – though so far only 80 foreigners have booked seats up until October, say officials.
Under the Samui Plus model, foreigners will stay in an Alternative Local Quarantine (ALQ) hotel on the island for seven days, after which they can stay in ALQ or SHA+ hotels on Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan or Koh Tao.