The country is starting to get back up on its feet from the hard punch it received from the COVID-19 pandemic. Being a major cash crop, tourism across the nation needs a significant boost in order to catch up with lost revenues and recover from the economic damage.
In order to attract more tourists and earn money, the island of Koh Samu’s tourism operators are seeking lower airline tickets. With the island certified as an alternate state quarantine destination, it is ready to receive tourists under the government’s Special Tourist Visa program.
“We want the government to find any practical solutions to help travellers visiting Samui with cheaper transport costs,” said the President of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, Vorasit Pongkumpunt.
However, he said, the monopoly of Bangkok Airways on the airport and the pier will make it hard for operators in Koh Samui to achieve the aforementioned reduction in prices.
“Unfortunately, all entry points to the island – both airport and pier – are owned by the private sector. Bargaining for price reduction is hard,” he lamented.
Despite those roadblocks, however, Mr. Vorasit said that they will bring up the topic of reduced air tickets at a government meeting next month.
The government is set to meet with representatives of the tourism industry in the provinces of Phuket and Surat Thani. The goal of the meeting is to come up with stimulus packages aimed specifically towards resurrecting the ailing tourism industry of the two provinces.
Just like Phuket, Mr. Vorasit insists that the island of Koh Samui is equally ready to receive foreign tourists with the STV program.
He highlighted the fact that a number of hotels in the island have received certification from the government qualifying them to provide alternate local state quarantine services. This means that they are ready to service tourists for their 14-day quarantine, and beyond.
Mr. Vorasit also stated that the healthcare industry in Koh Samui are up to par with standards set by the COVID-19 Situation Administration with regards to public health and safety.
The government is attempting to jumpstart the tourism industry with the Special Tourist Visa program, which aims to bring in 1,200 tourists per month starting this month.
Two groups of tourists from Guangzhou, China are set to arrive tomorrow in Bangkok, and in Phuket on October 26.
The second group was initially scheduled to arrive 11 days, but their arrival was cut short to give way to domestic tourism in Phuket for the Vegetarian Festival.
These reports came amidst rumors that no one in Guangzhou, China had signed up for the Special Tourist Visa.
While many welcomed the Special Tourist Visa, some members of the private sector remain critical of the program. The President of the Tourism Council of Thailand said that, with its very low quota of tourists, the program is “inadequate” to help the industry and take advantage of the traditionally high season in tourism in the last quarter of the year.
Many parties are also calling for the reduction or elimination of the 14-day mandatory quarantine.