Pattaya tourism officials thanked the mayor and were pleased to see Covid-19 vaccinations begin, but fear it’s too little, too late if Thailand hopes to reopen the city to foreign tourists by October.
Thanet Supornsahatrangsi of the Chonburi Tourism Industry Council said May 20 that tourism industry groups have pleaded with the government to prioritize tourism-sector workers in Pattaya’s vaccination plans. But the only ones who qualified for the first of 20,000 shots Thursday and Friday were medical personnel, volunteers and the elderly.
Pattaya having only 20,000 jabs also concerned Thanet, since the city originally said it would have 42,000, then revised it to 30,000. But the government’s failure to obtain vaccines at the same pace as most other countries has left Thailand unprepared for the latest coronavirus wave. More than half the vaccines were diverted to Bangkok, where more than 1,000 cases of Covid-19 are being reported almost daily.
It also has jeopardized plans to reopen the country to tourists, Thanet said. He said 70% of Pattaya’s 450,000 registered residents need to be vaccinated to allow Pattaya to reopen in October as a “sandbox” for fully vaccinated foreigners who would not have to undergo quarantine. At the current pace, that’s a pipedream.
Thanet earlier gave Pattaya officials a list of 10,000 local tourism-industry workers who want to be vaccinated, but only 265 were allowed to get jabs this week, he said.
Thanet thanked everyone who pulled off the vaccination effort at the Eastern National Indoor Sports Stadium, but criticized local government officials for nearly bungling it.
No budget was allocated for the needed information technology system to organize distribution of the shots. Furthermore, he complained, the government’s Mor Phom mobile application to register for doses is buggy and crashes often. He also blamed Nongprue subdistrict leaders for refusing to use the established, well-tested QueQ application to distribute queue tickets and stick to using their own, less-efficient method.
He said the line at the stadium, as a result, was long and disorganized. Meanwhile, the 265 tourism workers who were registered via QueQ had no issues.
Pattaya Business & Tourism Association President Boonanan Pattanasin said he was disappointed so few tourism workers received vaccines and complained the government hasn’t explained why so few sector employees got jabs.