PRIME Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, as head of the the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) executive committee, took up a proposal to reopen Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao islands to tourism on July 15 just days after Phuket does so on July 1 at a teleconference joined by senior officials from Surat Thani province and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Siam Rath newspaper said this evening (July 18).
TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said that in keeping with Gen Prayut’s strategy to reopen the entire country to tourism within 120 days without quarantine, TAT presented a plan to reopen cities in pilot areas faster.
This then means Phuket will reopen its door to tourists on July 1, with Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao islands in Surat Thani doing so on July 15.
Reopening of Phuket will be further expanded in August with Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai islands and Railay beach in Krabi province and Khao Lak strip and Koh Yao islands in Phang Nga province also doing so.
However tourists coming to these destinations must be from low- to medium-risk countries as determined by the CCSA executive committee and TAT. They have to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus and have a negative test result 72 hours before travel. Upon arrival they will be taken in a specially arranged vehicle to undergo another Covid test.
Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy Supattanapong Punmeechaow has clarified the government’s intention of reopening the entire nation to foreigners within 120 days, saying the countdown will start on July 1, placing its deadline at the end of October this year, NNT said.
Prime Minister Prayut detailed in a statement that the government has established contact with six Covid-19 vaccine producers, with AstraZeneca and Sinovac already making deliveries and Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna and Sinopharm already at the signing and reservation phases. Overall, the country is to receive 105.5 million doses, exceeding an initial target of 100 million, which will allow for the vaccination of 50 million people or 70 percent of the population.
The government is also looking to the approaching Phuket Tourism Sandbox programme to bolster confidence in its reopening plans. The Sandbox scheme is to be launched on July 1, and Phuket is stepping up efforts to achieve a target of 70 percent of its population vaccinated by that date. Hotels, tourism businesses and restaurants are giving full support to the plan, securing SHA and SHA+ certification by enhancing hygiene measures, and vaccinating over 70 percent of their staff. So far, 300 hotels have received SHA+.
Overall, public cooperation with the programme has been forthcoming with all sides hoping the reintroduction of tourists will bolster the local economy.
With a clear timeline for vaccinations, stringent control of preventative measures and good cooperation, the government is confident it will make good on its plan to reopen the entire nation in 120 days under the New Normal.
Top: Koh Samui sunset. Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC BY 2.0)
Home Page: Koh Phangan. Photo: Patrik Axelsson (CC BY-SA 2.0)