Thai travel agents are rooting for Phuket to successfully reopen to foreign tourists in July, saying success there will bode well for Pattaya and other tourist-centric provinces.
Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said May 27, members in Phuket have started coordinating with business partners overseas. Most members have marketing bases in Phuket, Bangkok, Pattaya, and elsewhere.
“We’re rooting for opening Phuket according to the sandbox plan,” Sisdivachr said, referring to the government’s strategy to reopen to fully vaccinate foreign tourists who would not be required to undergo quarantine, but would be confined to the island for a week. “There may be some foreign tourists visiting but perhaps not many. But it will be a good sign for the fourth quarter – high season – which is the normal time for tourists across the world to travel.”
Sisdivachr said the priority now is to control the third coronavirus wave as foreign countries remain concerned with Thailand’s relatively high number of cases and relatively low number of people vaccinated.
If the sandbox works in Phuket, it could be expanded to nine other provinces, including Chonburi, in October.
The Sports and Tourism Ministry and Tourism Authority of Thailand have promised 3.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for tourism-sector workers. The ATTA has collected lists of people wanting vaccines for the government’s consideration, Sisdivachr said.
He said members have reported interest among tourists from China, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, and elsewhere. However, much of Asia is now experiencing a third wave, putting a cloud over travel prospects.
Those countries also are leery of Thailand, which has done a poor job of vaccinating the public. Many foreigners won’t come unless Thailand can vaccinate 70 percent of the population.
Even if Phuket gets to that level, however, there likely won’t be many tourists arriving in July, Sisdivachr said. Real improvement will be seen in the fourth quarter and 2022.