Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

Phuket reopening delayed

Yuthasak: Fears second wave

The government’s plan to reopen the resort island of Phuket as a model to welcome back foreign visitors has hit a snag after the country last week saw the first case of local Covid-19 infection in more than three months.

Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the launch of the so-called “Phuket model” scheduled for next month as part of efforts to revive the local economy, is likely to be pushed back.

He said TAT officials are visiting Phuket this long weekend to discuss disease control measures with business operators, adding the proposed model to bring back foreign tourists may have to be adjusted if the country faces a second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Under the Phuket model, floated by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, about 200 visitors from Australia and New Zealand will be allowed in. However, they must first test negative for the virus in their country of origin and stay in quarantine for 14 days at designated places in Phuket.

The visitors can travel throughout the province if they test negative for Covid-19. But if they want to visit other provinces, they will have to stay in quarantine in their respective provinces for another seven days.

Mr Yuthasak also said domestic travel during the four-day weekend was less than robust with hotel occupancy recorded at 30% and estimated spending at around 8.8 billion baht. However, he said tourism activities have picked up since July.

As a result, the TAT plans to increase offers under the government’s Rao Tiew Duay Kan (We Travel Together) campaign to spur long-distance travel and generate income for local businesses, he said.

Under the campaign, the government subsidises five million nights of hotel accommodation at 40% of normal room rates, with the subsidy limited to 3,000 baht per night for up to five nights per person. Tourists will be responsible for the other 60% of lodging cost.

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