Tourism Operators Want COVID-19 Restrictions Relaxed

Tourism operators are pushing for a relaxation of travel restrictions and a shorter quarantine to attract more international arrivals for the upcoming high season.
Khoopongsakorn, president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter, said reducing the time of quarantine and the number of RT-PCR tests to two might not significantly increase the number of visitors, adding that more regulations needed to be eased.
Using antigen test kits for the second test would reduce the cost from 5,200 baht for two RT-PCR tests to about 3,000 baht.
In Europe, RT-PCR tests cost 1,000 baht, compared to 2,400 or 2,800 baht in Phuket. Kongsak believes that this is a sticking point for potential visitors, which leads them to choose another destination.
To make traveling to Thailand more appealing, the complicated Certificate of Entry procedure should also be simplified.
As a result of aircrafts’ high-efficiency particulate air filters, foreigners are also concerned about the rule that sends high-risk passengers into quarantine if they are on the same flight as those who test positive since the risk of in-flight transmission is highly unlikely.
To put tourists at ease while visiting the sandbox, this measure must be revoked, he said.
Since Indian tourists have been granted permission to visit the sandbox, they will be able to travel by November as Phuket had direct flights via the IndiGo airline prior to the pandemic, said Kongsak.
Tourists plan their year-end holidays 2-3 months in advance, so travel restrictions must be eased quickly and clearly.
In the fourth quarter, the relaxation of rules for local travelers and the government stimulus campaign should help generate 150,000-200,000 domestic trips per month and lift the occupancy rate to 20%, Kongsak said.
According to Charintip Tiyaphorn, president of the Tourism Council of Krabi, if the Phuket sandbox reduces the mandatory stay to seven days, Krabi can receive more tourists by land, which takes three hours from Phuket. The current 7+7 model requires tourists to transfer to Krabi by boat, which is difficult during the monsoon season in September.
Due to the gloomy weather, some tourists decided to cancel their trips to Krabi and stay in Phuket instead. Krabi received 331 tourists under the 7+7 island-hopping scheme as of Sept 23.

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