Pattaya TAT spins tourist arrival stats, travelers say Thailand Pass bug-riddled

Judging by people in the Thailand Pass line at Suvarnabhumi International Airport Thursday night, most of those returning to Thailand were Thais.

Pattaya drew 10 percent of all people arriving in Thailand since Nov. 1, with local tourism officials saying that will double in the second week.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya Director Kachondej Apicharttrakul said Nov. 10 that, of the 20,000 foreign arrivals logged since Thailand reopened with minimal quarantine, 2,000 people went to Chonburi.

Phisit Sae-Ku, president of the Eastern Thai Hotels Association (Eastern Chapter), said things were trending better, but said he is worried by a labor shortage in Pattaya hotels.

Many former employees, he said, have not returned with some staying home until they feel confident there will be enough business to keep them employed.

Kachondej admitted some of those arrivals were Thais or expats. Judging by those in the Thailand Pass line at Suvarnabhumi International Airport Thursday night, most of them were Thais. Of the foreigners, Kachondej said the top five nationalities were Americans, British, Germans, Japanese and South Korean.

“We believe that there will be more tourists visiting in the second week,” Kachondej said, claiming the new Thailand Pass QR system was convenient, although users have blasted the bug-riddled system as anything but.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya Director Kachondej Apicharttrakul said Pattaya has drawn 10 percent, 2,000 of the 20,000 people arriving in Thailand since Nov. 1.

He said more publicity by TAT – which is falsely marketing the reopening as Test & Go, when, in fact, much more than a test is needed – will help. Tourists expecting to just get a test result and go, however, will be very disappointed at the extra requirements, including US$50,000 insurance and one-night quarantine for a program being marketed as having no quarantine.

The no quarantine system is being serviced in Chonburi by 200 certified quarantine hotels with at least the SHA+ certification. Tourists arriving on the no quarantine system must spend at least one night in a quarantine hotel, longer if their required coronavirus test results don’t come back in time.

Transportation continues to be a problem, however, Kachondej admitted. While the process for having Thailand Pass QR codes and preflight test results checked has been smoothed out, the quarantine-hotel pickup is chaos.

There is no organization of any sort at Suvarnabhumi, not even a basic layout where hotel desks are lined up alphabetically. Waits Thursday ran 30 minutes to find a driver.

Kachondej said the problem is that transport companies must be SHA+ certified as well. Some hotels do not use their own vans, requiring SHA+ taxis to carry passengers. Those drivers also must have commercial license plates, which not all cabs do.

In many cases, tourists must be first taken to a hospital for a coronavirus test upon arrival. Chonburi has five hospitals open 24 hours a day to perform such tests, Kachondej said.

The local TAT director optimistically predicted Chonburi would see 50 billion baht in tourism revenue in the fourth quarter. Based on current numbers, that seems unlikely.

Chonburi boasts 200 SHA+ certified quarantine hotels; getting to Pattaya continues to be a problem, however.