Archive for the ‘Thai tourism’ Category

Thai Tourism Operators Are Debating About 500 Baht Tourism Tax

October 13, 2021

Tourism operators are divided over a plan to impose a 500 baht “tourism tax” on foreign arrivals from next year. Nikkei Asia reports that some operators are concerned such a move could stifle tourism just as the country prepares to reopen. Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi is the president of the Thai Hotels Association.”The fee to be implemented is a considerable amount for those visiting Thailand, where hotel rooms can be found for as little as 1,000 baht. Potential visitors will rethink their travel plans due to this fee.”THA’s southern chapter’s Kongsak Khoopongsakorn agrees that the tourism industry needs the funds, but the government should pay for it, not tourists.”The fund will help our tourism industry grow sustainably in several ways. However, I don’t believe the funds should come from tourists.”The former chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand, Chairat Trirattanajaraspon, says now is the right time to introduce a tourist tax as the sector recovers from the economic devastation caused by Covid-19.The Covid-19 pandemic has already indicated a clear need for the tax, and I think now would be a good time to implement it. It would be a very useful mechanism if we faced another crisis in the future to support the tourism industry.”The proposed fee was originally 300 baht, but it was raised to 500 baht earlier this month. It would replace the departure tax already imposed on departing passengers and would turn Thailand into an upscale destination for foreign tourists. The fee still needs Cabinet approval before it can take effect.It used to account for 20% of Thailand’s GDP before the Covid-19 pandemic decimated it. However, Thailand is now taking small steps to revive the industry, from sandbox schemes to quarantine-free entry for travelers from low-risk countries.

Survey of Thai Hotel Operators Shows That Most of Them Want To Close Temporarily

September 8, 2021

52% of hotel operators are thinking about temporarily closing, while 9% want to close permanently if the Covid-19 pandemic persists longer than expected.
A joint survey by the Bank of Thailand and Thai Hotels Association (THA) found that 62% of hotel operators planned to reduce labor costs in order to deal with the financial effects of the pandemic.
61% of respondents said they planned to cut other expenses.
In the survey conducted between Aug 13-28, the central bank and THA surveyed 234 respondents, 14 of whom were alternative state quarantines and five were hospitals.
A total of 38% of Phuket Sandbox respondents said foreign tourist arrivals were lower than expected, but 35% said the numbers were what they expected.
The occupancy rate averaged 15%.
Surat Thani, the host of the Samui Plus model, reported fewer travelers than expected, with an average occupancy rate of 4%.
Over half of hotel operators reported income below 10% of pre-Covid levels, and 17% earned 11-30% of their pre-outbreak income.
According to THAI president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, hotels nationwide had an occupancy rate of 10.6% in August, only slightly higher than the previous month’s 9.6%.
65% of hotel operators said they were only able to survive for less than three months.
Marisa said that while 17% of them remained closed, the number of active hotels increased from 40.1% in July to 48.4% in August, mainly driven by hotels in Bangkok, which turned to the long-stay market, and in Phuket, which has its quarantine-free program for inoculated tourists.
A recent drop in confidence in Koh Samui prompted tourism operators to call for a relaxation of the Samui Plus model, which still requires inbound tourists to stay at quarantine facilities for three days.
She suggested applying the quarantine-free approach to other destinations to stimulate demand, which could help hotels survive the tough financial crisis.
By September 6, Samui had received only 621 tourists via the pilot program, while over 400 tourists had completed the program in Phuket and then traveled to Samui.
Starting July 15, tourists spent 7,136 nights in Samui Plus destinations, and another 8,335 have been reserved in advance.
Phuket saw 176,128 and 125,434 room nights booked in August and September, respectively.

NY TAT Is Trying To Make Sure That American Travelers Come To Thailand

August 28, 2021

American travelers who have been fully vaccinated are looking for destinations without complex restrictions, according to the New York Office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Travelers from the United States are looking away from previously popular destinations such as Europe and Canada, and when they’re looking for tropical beach vacations, destinations like the Maldives and the Caribbean are attracting tourists who might have chosen Thailand in the past.
According to the director of the TAT’s New York Office, travelers and tour operators are avoiding countries that have restrictive entry requirements, strict regulations about who is allowed in, and complicated procedures just to get into the country. Rather, they focus their efforts and travel on countries that are fully open to travelers and do not require quarantine.
People see news of lockdowns and assume Thailand and other Asian countries are closed for tourism, so some tour operators advise tourists to avoid the region. In addition to its Phuket Sandbox program and Samui Plus scheme, Thailand hopes the Sandbox 7+7 Extension will attract more customers by offering the opportunity to travel to several locations in Thailand during the first two weeks of the program.
Similar to the UK, which has added Thailand to its red list of restricted countries, requiring a 10-day quarantine on return, the US has classified Thailand as warranting a Level 4 Travel Advisory, telling Americans not to travel there because of safety concerns related to Covid-19. The director of the New York TAT says citizens can still travel.
3222 Americans were among the first 24,000 international travelers to arrive in Phuket Sandbox as of August 24. Despite the increase in Certificate of Entry applications, they do not grow fast enough to really reinvigorate the Thai tourism industry. Covid-19 tests and entry restrictions on entry are proving more deterrent than even travel warnings from home countries.
The TAT director looked at Canada’s situation as well and concluded that the difficult entry process has driven that market away from Thailand as well. There have been long lockdowns and Covid-19 resurgence despite high vaccination rates, and travelers are hesitant to travel within the next few months. Research shows that only 38% of Canadian travelers plan to travel in the next three months, while 79% said they would travel to destinations welcoming vaccinated travelers within the next year.

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Thai Bits: COVID-19 Slowing Down Building Of 3 Subway Lines, A Couple Is Caught With Crystal Meth

August 26, 2021

3 Train Lines Are Being Delayed By COVID-19

Are waitinf for certain subway lines to open in Bangkok ? You will have to wait a little longer due to COVID.
The construction of three subway train lines has been postponed, according to Mass Rapid Transit Authority Governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas. These lines are the Orange Line, the Pink Line, and the Yellow Line. According to Pakapong, the lines were already 4% to 5% ahead of schedule. Currently, the project is 2% to 3% behind schedule. The governor did not provide further details on what the percentages meant.
Because the movement of workers had been a problem and some workers had been quarantined, the construction was already moving slowly. Pakapong says the delay resulted from unforeseeable circumstances beyond the MRTA’s control. As a result, the governor told the contractors to make up for the lost time.
The Thai media reports that several of the trains will be delayed anyway. The opening of the Yellow Line, which was slated for this year, has been pushed back to early or mid-next year. The opening of the Pink line has also been delayed. It was not mentioned that the services were ahead of schedule but the openings were delayed. The Phuket Light Rail had also faced problems in the past and had to be delayed.

Crystal Meth Prevents A Couple From Leaving To Hong Kong

Two people were arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle 9 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine into Hong Kong in backpacks.
The drugs were seized in Bangkok nearly a year earlier. Henry Kelechi Alaeto, a Nigerian national, and his Thai wife, Wanwisa Pilatan, 24, were detained by police in their Bangkok hotel room, according to Jirabhop Bhuridej, deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau.
When officers raided the couple’s room, they found 290 grams of cocaine, also known as blow, Columbian marching powder, or Charlie. Jirabhop said the drugs were worth 900,000 baht. During the month of October, an employee of a parcel shipping company informed police that a package destined for Hong Kong was suspicious. In the package, police found 9 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine.
In the investigation, Jirabhop discovered that the package was sent by a woman, later identified as Wanwisa. Henry allegedly drove her to the shipping service office. According to Jiabhop, the drug wrap had fingerprints matching Henry’s. According to Thai media reports, a criminal background check revealed Henry had a history of involvement in the drug trade.

Sandbox Expats in Phuket Have Been Left Stranded Due To Suspension Of Local Flights

August 4, 2021

Sandbox tourists left stranded in Phuket after all domestic flights were suspended after the severe Covid-19 outbreak will be offered a special bus transfer service to Suvarnabhumi airport as an ad hoc solution.
Those planning to take a flight from Suvarnabhumi to their other destinations will be able to use the service, while those intending to return to Phuket can do so as return flights are available there, as usual, said Phuket governor Narong Wunsiew recently.
The bus transfer service will be available on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays until Aug 16, he said. It will cost 1,500 baht per person.
He said the bus leaves Central Phuket Festival at 5am and stops at a PTT petrol station in Thalang district at 5.30 am before heading to Suvarnabhumi, where it is scheduled to arrive at 9 pm the same day.
Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus-certified hotels can only book Sandbox Express Bus service, he said.
Several tourists who arrived at the Phuket Sandbox on July 1, 2021, had to return home after spending some time there.
Narong noted that many of these Phuket Sandbox tourists had planned further travel after Phuket before the pandemic situation became so serious.
Several of these tourists are Thais who wished to leave Phuket after the required 14-day stay was fulfilled, and most have no problems continuing to their destinations, he said.
“Only some of these Thai tourists – and their foreign counterparts – who wish to go on to the other provinces now require assistance, and the province is working with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration on ways to ensure their comfort,” said the governor.
Based on its stringent control measures for Covid-19, Phuket is considered the safest place in Thailand in terms of outbreaks.
Due to the suspension of domestic flights on July 20, the travel plans of numerous Phuket Sandbox tourists who finished their 14-day stay have been affected, according to Nanthasiri Ronsiri, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket office.
It is likely that many of them wanted to travel to other destinations in Thailand before going to Bangkok and leaving the country via Suvarnabhumi, she said.
When tourists inquire about traveling to other provinces, the office now tries to convince them to stay on in Phuket for their own safety and offers them special tourism programs,” the official said.
Those who insist on traveling to Bangkok have only the bus transfer service as an option, she said, while Nok Air is still in talks with the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand about operating a one-way flight from Phuket to U-Tapao airport specifically for Phuket Sandbox passengers.
Thailand’s top land transport official says drivers of buses transporting passengers to Suvarnabhumi airport are subject to strict Covid-19 control measures when they return to Phuket. This is because Suvarnabhumi is in the dark-red zone, where the outbreak situation is critical.
Phuket Sandbox has welcomed 14,055 tourists over the past month.

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Thai Bits: Phang Nga Opening To Travelers Delayed To August 15, 2021, Thai August Vaccination Plan To Include People and Expats 18 and Up

August 3, 2021

Phang Nga Reopening To Be Delayed To August 15

The opening of Phang Nga to overseas travelers has been postponed until August 15, 2021, and the extension to the Phuket Sandbox, which includes a sealed route to Phang Nga, has been postponed indefinitely.
Initially, the province’s reopening to foreign tourists under the “Phang Nga Prompt” campaign was set for August 1, but the plan has not yet been approved by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.
As a result of the move, local and national disease control measures have been tightened. With the exception of emergency vehicles and those delivering medicine or other essential supplies, both Phuket and Phang Nga are closing their borders to the general public. As a spokesperson for the CCSA stated, “entry to the province is prohibited by land, air, and sea.”
After their first seven days, travelers who are immunized against Covid-19 can enter Phuket and travel to approved islands in Phang Nga, Surat Thani, and Krabi with the “Phang Nga Prompt” travel scheme. Before traveling to other islands, travelers would need to test negative for Covid-19.
Within the province of Surat Thani, Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao are among the islands. In Krabi province, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai, and Railay Beach are among the islands.
In addition, Jamroen Thippayaphongthada, governor of Phang Nga, announced Friday that the province’s “integration with Mor Chana contact tracing platform is not yet completed” and a new cluster of Covid-19 has been detected. In Phang Nga, 19 cases of Covid-19 were reported today, four yesterday, and 41 recently. The governor says officials need more time to “publicize disease control measures at the community level.”
It was estimated earlier that the reopening scheme would attract 20,000 tourists to the province in the first month and generate more than 2.6 billion baht.

Thailand Vaccination Plan For August Includes People and Expats 18 And Up

Thailand’s mass vaccination campaign against Covid-19 is now open to the general public who are at least 18 years old, including foreign residents. Those who are 60 and over and those with underlying conditions that could put them at risk of severe infection if they contract Covid-19 are still given priority.
Thailand plans to have 80% of Bangkok residents vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of this month as well as 70% of residents in other 28 “dark-red” provinces, says deputy spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Recently, the Ministry of Public Health has adjusted its vaccination plan, extending it, of course, to the general public.”
In the Thai government’s immunization campaign, 17.8 million doses of Covid-19 have been administered. Thailand’s tourist islands Phuket and Koh Samui, which are of considerable economic importance, were given priority during the campaign. Vaccinations were accelerated on these islands in advance of the July offer of “Phuket Sandbox” and “Samui Plus” travel schemes.
Thailand’s government has focused its efforts on vaccinating vulnerable groups in high-risk areas, particularly those in Bangkok, the epicenter of the recent virus wave. The virus has reached record levels recently, and the Delta variant has been detected.
Vaccination plan for August 2021:
80% of residents in Bangkok, Thailand’s epicenter of the latest wave of Covid-19.
70% of residents in the other 28 “dark red” provinces are under maximum and strict control.
50% of residents in other provinces.

According to Natapanu, around 12,000 foreign residents (there are 300,000 Expats in Thailand) were vaccinated against Covid-19 under the Thai government’s campaign, including elderly ex-pats, those with underlying conditions, teachers, diplomats, and those involved with international organizations.
In addition to 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine donated by the United States to Thailand, 150,000 doses have been allocated to foreign residents.
Natapanu says people 60 and older, as well as those with one of the specified underlying conditions, still have priority. Those who registered in the previous phase are still in the system and will be contacted soon.
After it was launched, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Public Health’s website had an apparent data breach where names, emails, and registration numbers were exposed, a similar problem to the previous registration site ThailandIntervac.com.
According to Tanee Sangra, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nearly 17,000 foreigners registered for the Covid-19 vaccine via the site despite the glitch.

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Interprovincial Bus Services Are Suspended In Dark Red Provinces

July 22, 2021

Department of Land Transport has suspended all public transportation services interprovincially within the 13 “dark red” provinces under maximum control to stop the spread of Coronavirus, it announced on July 21, 2021. Domestic flights into and out of those provinces have also been suspended. At least until August 2, 2021, the suspensions are in place.
Public transportation company BorKorSor announced that interprovincial bus services in the northern, northeastern, eastern, and southern regions are suspended until August 2. Parcels will still be delivered by bus. The president of the transport company said the suspension was related to the government’s announcement to avoid interprovincial travel to prevent infection from Covid-19.
As announced by the Civil Aviation Authority, domestic flights to and from “dark red” provinces would be suspended through August 2, with the expectation of flights for medical services and connections for those traveling through “Phuket Sandbox” or “Samui Plus” reopening schemes.
Just before the suspension, many people decided to leave Bangkok. A number of people returned to their hometowns from Bangkok’s Don Muang International Airport. This morning, some people traveled home by van. On July 21, 2021, 30 public vans operated routes to Chon Buri and Rayong before the services were suspended at 1 pm.

Bangkok

Bangkok city buses continue to run, but the number of passengers allowed has been reduced to 50% and social distancing is enforced. The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority also changed the bus timetable from 5 am to 9 pm to abide by restrictions imposed by the government.
The BTS SkyTrain will also adjust its service timetable as part of the government’s disease control measures. At 8 p.m., the last train leaves the terminal stations. The date is July 22, 2021. The first train on the Sukhumvit line departs from the terminal stations at 5:15 am, and the first train on the Silom line departs at 5:30 am.

“Dark Red” provinces

A number of checkpoints are being put in place in the provinces to monitor interprovincial travel. Those traveling out of “dark red” provinces will need to request approval in advance.
The 13 “dark red” provinces are Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Chachoengsao, Ayutthaya, Yala, Pattani, Songkhla, and Narathiwat.

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Samui Plus Is The Next Thai COVID-19 Plan To Start After The Phuket Sandbox Plan

July 16, 2021

The “Samui Plus” tourism scheme kicked off on July 15th, 2021 to welcome fully vaccinated foreign tourists, two weeks after the Phuket Sandbox reopening.
Meanwhile, in Bangkok, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over the launch via Thai Khu Fa Facebook live to welcome the tourists.
The first flight landed shortly after 11 am with 10 visitors from the UK, Germany and France. They were all members of the media invited by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to inspect the program.
Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT deputy governor of marketing for Asia and the South Pacific, said the Samui Plus scheme was not in a rush and it was expected to welcome 1,000 tourists in the first month.
He said authorities were preparing to launch marketing plans in low-risk countries such
The Samui Plus model covers Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Visitors are required to stay at approved hotels on Samui for a week and can leave their accommodation on day four.
Under the Phuket Sandbox launched on July 1, fully-vaccinated travelers do not have to quarantine in a hotel but cannot leave Phuket for two weeks.
Tanes Petsuwan, TAT deputy governor for marketing communications, said the visitors are required to follow standard operating procedures during their visit.
After the first three days, visitors are allowed to travel on “sealed routes” and they must travel with service operators that have received approval under the Samui Plus scheme.
If they test negative in their third test, which is taken on day 12 or day 13 of their arrival, they can travel to other provinces after completing the 14-day Samui Plus program.
He said tourism authorities expect soft demand in the early stages due to the surge in Covid-19 infections in the country.
Tanes said the Samui Plus model was launched earlier than planned. Authorities gave it the green light to open ahead of schedule on Sept 1 after reviewing the details.
Surat Thani governor Witchawut Jinto expressed confidence the province’s Covid-19 protection measures will keep travelers safe following the launch of the Samui Plus scheme.
Under the plan, stringent measures including restricting people’s movements would be implemented if Covid-19 cases exceed 20 within two weeks.
The decision to terminate Samui Plus would be made by the Covid-19 Centre of Koh Samui.

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The FIrst Expats To Arrive in Phuket Under The Sandbox Are Interviewed

July 3, 2021

According to the local tourism office, the first group of foreign tourists to arrive on Phuket under the sandbox tourism program enjoyed their stay on the island.,

According to Nanthasiri Ronsiri, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket office, Israeli tourists who visited the Old Town on the island’s first day of reopening were impressed by the locals and the food.
Nathasiri said that the group, including Israeli tourists, tour groups, and members of the press, will spend a week in Phuket and visit many islands and communities.
A community leader in Phuket’s Old Town, Somyot Pathan, said tourists brought joy to residents, praising them for adhering to social-distancing measures.
Somyot reports that tourists from Dubai visited the Old Town recently.
Nanthasiri estimates that Phuket welcomed 2,435 tourists recently.
On Thursday, the first day of the reopening, 326 passengers landed on four flights from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Singapore. On Friday, about 500 people were expected to arrive.Phuket Sandbox is part of the government’s plan to reopen the kingdom to foreign tourists without requiring them to undergo quarantine.
Visitors with vaccinations must stay in Phuket for 14 days before traveling to other provinces.
On July 15, 2021, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao will open their doors to foreign tourists without quarantine requirements. Phuket’s postcard-perfect beaches were visited by travelers within 24 hours of receiving a Covid-19 test result.
They were the first people to arrive in the country. Sigal Baram, visiting with her husband and friends from Israel, said, “This is the perfect place to just relax and clean our minds, ou heads, after a long time.”
The ‘Phuket Sandbox’ initiative allows fully vaccinated tourists to move freely on the island without being quarantined, although masks are required in most public areas.
Local street vendors said they had not been affected by the return of tourists, despite the fact that hotels and restaurants welcomed them back.
It is unlikely that street vendors will get money from overseas tourists… the money will instead go to hotels and restaurants, said Yupin Pap, a massage therapist who lost her job during the pandemic and became a street vendor selling food on the beach.
Last year, Thailand lost 160 billion baht in tourism revenues as foreign arrivals plummeted 83%.
Bangkok was particularly hard hit by job losses and business closures.
“I see the shops closed, which is a big change from before,” said Omar Alraeesi, who visits Phuket every year from the United Arab Emirates.
There were millions of people visiting Phuket every year before the pandemic, and the government and industry hope the reopening will help save its battered economy.

Thai PM Wants To Re-Open Country To Tourists In 120 Days, Thai Poll Disagrees

June 28, 2021

Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, or Suan Dusit Poll, has conducted an opinion survey that shows the majority of people believe reopening the country in 120 days is not feasible due to the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The online poll was conducted between June 21-24, 2021, on 3,320 people across the country to compile their opinions on the Thai PM’s announcement that the country would be reopened in 120 days amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

When asked if it would be possible to reopen the country within 120 days, 39.88% said this was unlikely, and 21.64% said it was impossible. In contrast, 30.26% thought it might be possible, and 8.22% were confident it could happen.

58.22% of respondents disagreed with the announcement, 25.90% agreed, and 15.88% were uncertain.

Asked whether they would accept a higher risk of Covid-19 reopening the country in 120 days, 51.05% said “no”; 26.93% said “yes”; and 22.02% were uncertain.

Asked what concerns them about the pledge to reopen the country in 120 days, respondents were allowed to select more than one concern:

-78.07% expressed concern about new variants of the Covid-19;

  • 71.18% expected more clusters of infections; and
  • 68.41% expected a new wave of the pandemic.

When asked what should be done to be able to reopen the country in 120 days, respondents said:

  • 85.12% said vaccinations must be accelerated;
  • 77.06% quarantine and suppression of illegal border crossers must be tightened;
  • 76.53% Increase the number of vaccine brands imported to adjust vaccination administration;
  • 71.78% vaccine distribution must be expedited; and
  • 54.75% case-finding needs to be stepped up to prevent Covid-19 from spreading.

If asked what benefits reopening would have, regardless of whether they agreed with the 120-day schedule, the answers were:

  • 84.04% believe it could boost the economy;
  • 61.73% believed it could accelerate vaccinations; and
  • 50.10% believed it could draw tourists from abroad.