Tour operators in Pattaya and Bangkok were concerned about unequal reception capacity because they were not included in the sandbox programme
Tour operators in Pattaya and Bangkok have expressed concern over unequal reception opportunities for tourists because they have not been included in the sandbox programme
Businesses in the capital and in one of Thailand’s most popular resort cities are claiming a negative outlook for their businesses and expect new job losses. Thanet Supornsahasrangsi, acting president of the Chonburi Tourism Board said the tourism sector in vibrant areas such as Pattaya and Bangkok should prepare for a further slowdown without including them in the sandbox scheme.
The Covid-19 Situation Management Centre on Friday approved three additional destinations for sandboxing covering islands in Surat Thani province – Samui, Phangan and (Ko) Tao as well as Krabi and Phang-nga – in addition to the existing Phuket scheme.
The Situation Group on Coronavirus in Thailand has also extended the suspension of the “Test&Go” scheme, which allowed tourists to enter Thailand without undergoing mandatory quarantine, indefinitely.
Thanet Supornsahasrangsi said hotel occupancy rates in Pattaya are expected to fall to 10-15% in February from 20% this month, while smaller hotels may be forced to temporarily close and lay off workers.
“The government should learn from other countries how to cope and live with the rapidly spreading Omicron variant instead of imposing strict travel rules when new cases arise, without giving any financial support to operators,” she said.
Supornsahasrangsi said Pattaya and the Chonburi Provincial Public Health Authority would continue to prepare measures to apply for the sandbox programme despite a surge in daily cases occurring mainly in nightlife entertainment venues.
She said the province had prepared enough hospital beds to deal with the outbreak: 18’000 “hospital” beds and another 6,000 hotel rooms that could be converted into alternative quarantine facilities.
Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Hotel Association of Thailand said that since Bangkok was a key gateway to the country, it should be included in the “sandbox” scheme, but with stricter measures and cooperation of hoteliers to closely monitor guests.
She said the outlook for the capital’s hotel business was expected to hit rock bottom, as it did before the country opened, as hotel owners lacked revenue from both foreign guests and domestic meetings and seminars by government agencies, which had ordered staff to work from home since early January.
Pongsakorn Ketprapakorn, president of the Phang-nga Tourism Board said that with more sandy provinces, tourists who may have previously been reluctant to fly to Thailand because the Test&Go programme was not available, may now change their minds, thanks to more travel options beyond the Phuket sandy province. He says tourists who visit Khao Lak usually stay between 14 days and a month.
Pongsakorn says occupancy in Phangnga in February could reach 45%, up from 20-30% at the moment, which would help offset losses from the suspension of the Test&Go programme.
Charintip Thiyaphorn, president of the Krabi Tourism Board said operators in the province would like to work as an Andaman sandbox, allowing tourists to travel between Phuket, Krabi and Phang-nga during their seven-day stay. However, each province must prove that it has effective control of the virus before the scheme can spread to other areas, Charinthip added.
She said hotel occupancy rates are expected to remain at 30 per cent next month unless there is a sudden change in travel policy, and then rise to 30-40 per cent in March when Krabi welcomes tourist arrivals from Europe and the US.
Catch up on more stories here
Follow us on Facebook here