A contentious issue circulating online at present is the requirement for tourists traveling into Samet island in the Gulf of Thailand to possess medical facility-approved ATK Covid test results. The majority of tourists arriving at piers on the mainland to board ferries to Samet are unaware of this requirement, and some opt to cancel their island trip instead of spending 330 baht per person for the test at the pier.
Few people are now seen at piers for Samet island ferries in Rayong province, as many tourists decide against paying 330 baht for the ATK test despite having already made their way to the pier. According to a group of 10 tourists, people in their group called off the island visit after learning about the requirement for health facility-approved ATK results, saying that the group would have had to spend thousands of baht on the test. Members of the group added that everybody has been fully vaccinated against Covid and the non-Thai group members have already been quarantined and have been ATK-tested several times.
Sarinthip Thapsapmongkhon, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samet, apologized for the inadequate communication about the ATK test requirement. She explained that people heading to Samet island are able to use ATK results from many issuers in the area, some of which offer the test for free. Tourists may also use health facility-certified ATK results from elsewhere but the results must not be older than 72 hours.
The operators of Kohkaew Phisadan pier and Tharuaphe pier indicated they have been greatly impacted after the provincial authority in Rayong implemented the ATK requirement on January 20. They said tourists were unaware of the measure, and almost all tourists who were looking to make day trips to Samet island would turn back instead of paying. The operators said they wanted the provincial authority to reconsider the measure, as the ferry operators are now facing losses. (NNT)