Samui prepares for tourists

03-Jul-2020 Intellasia | BangkokPost | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Koh Samui is planning to embrace international arrivals from low-risk countries that fly direct to the island in September, with a quota of 200 tourists a day.

The tourists can either go into a 14-day quarantine at a hotel on the island, or test negative on a 4,000-baht coronavirus test upon arrival.

Vorasit Pongkumpunt, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said even with partial international flights allowed from this month, it is too soon to restart high levels of international tourism on the island as the possibility of an outbreak remains uncertain.

Prior to the pandemic, Samui airport had four international flightsfrom Chengdu in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

Chinese tourists from Chengdu usually came via chartered flights, and are expected to be the first returning visitors to the island under the travel bubble scheme.

Vorasit said Samui is ready to open for international visitors, who normally account for 90 percent of overall tourists.

Local industry and related stakeholders are preparing strict safety and hygiene standards, as well as rapid testing on arrival and sufficient healthcare facilities, such as 250 hospital beds in case of new infections.

The island already has a new laboratory operated by Koh Samui Hospital that can provide 90 swab tests for the virus per day, with results in six hours.

He said the 4,000-baht swab test for foreign arrivals allows them to avoid a 14-day quarantine.

The association is working on forming lists of hotels on the island that would like to become alternative state quarantine facilities.

The screening process for tourists who fly through Suvarnabhumi airport is unclear. Tourists who arrive in Bangkok may have to pass a screening process to enter the country before visiting the island.

Once plans to welcome foreign tourists are approved by the Tourism and Sports and Public Health ministries, the association will give locals the details and conduct a public hearing.

Vorasit believes the local community will have a positive sentiment towards the new flow of overseas tourists if they are confident about the safety procedures imposed in the island.

The improvement in controlling the outbreak in origin countries is another factor that should ease local concerns.

Vorasit said when inter-provincial travel was not restricted, the island saw the return of 3,500-4,000 local tourists, or 50 percent of the daily total before the outbreak.

The average length of stay for local travellers was only two nights, much less compared with the one week for international tourists.

“There are still not enough tourists to fulfil the hotel supply here,” he said.


Category: Thailand

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