Pattaya business leaders remain undaunted about the city reopening to foreign tourists on Sept. 1, even after the Tourism Authority of Thailand suggested it may have to wait, possibly until next year.
TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said on July 24 that certain areas of Phangnga and Krabi provinces could reopen Aug. 1, pending approval from the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.
Original plans called for those areas to reopen Sept. 1, but the dates were moved up due to the success of the Phuket “sandbox,” which began July 1, and “Samui Plus” July 15. The so-called “Andaman Sandbox” would give Phuket and Samui visitors somewhere else to visit using “sealed routes.”
Pattaya officials earlier submitted their “Pattaya Move On” plan to reopen Sept. 1, but it has not yet been debated, let alone approved. Record daily coronavirus cases in Chonburi may now mean it won’t be considered until the outbreak subsides.
Chonburi on Thursday reported a record 982 new coronavirus cases with 228 of those found in Banglamung District, which includes Pattaya. Thailand, as a whole, reported a record 17,669 cases with 165 deaths.
Yuthasak suggested the Covid-19 crisis in other key tourist provinces – Bangkok, Chonburi, Chiang Mai Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi and Buri Ram – won’t ease in time for planned reopening in September and October. In some cases, reopening may have to be delayed until after the new year, the TAT governor said.
Pattaya Business & Tourism Association President Boonanan Pattanasin said planning and preparation for the Move On plan would continue despite the TAT governor’s comments. If planning stopped and the coronavirus situation improved, reopening would have to be delayed due to lack of preparation. So there’s no choice but to carry on, he said.
If the virus problem doesn’t improve, city residents and business owners wouldn’t want to reopen anyway, Boonanan added.
The PBTA, however, is asking the government to reconsider the current Pattaya lockdown, as it hasn’t reduced the number of cases and only caused more economic harm.
Any future restrictions should be introduced at the same time as economic-relief measures, Boonanan said.
He added that the government needs to devote more Covid-19 vaccine resources to Pattaya. It’s understandable the limited supply of vaccines would be devoted to the hardest hit area – metropolitan Bangkok – but Pattaya is nearing 1,000 cases a day and has the added burden of trying to reopen to tourists by getting zero percent of the local population inoculated.