As the clock ticks down to the much-anticipated re-opening of Phuket on July 1, tourism officials are anxious to separate the southern island from parts of the country currently experiencing higher Covid-19 infection rates.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is emphasising the safety element of Phuket and the other areas that will follow the “sandbox” model of re-opening. In a fortuitous development, Phuket recorded no new infections yesterday and TAT governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, says tourists need to be convinced of the island’s safety.
“As the timeline for the country’s reopening via the so-called Phuket sandbox remains the same – July 1 – we have to make sure that the destination, which is currently building herd immunity, is safe for tourists.”
The Bangkok Post reports that yesterday, the TAT met with the Thai Hotels Association and representatives from 50 – 60 hotels, including Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Centara Hotels and Resorts, Minor Hotels, Accor, Dusit Thani, Asset World Corp and Onyx Hospitality Group.
The authority wants to reassure hoteliers that the July 1 re-opening is still on and to ask for their cooperation in communicating with foreign guests. In particular, Yuthasak is focused on highlighting the island’s safety to differentiate it from the rest of the country.
“If we cannot give a clear message that the Phuket sandbox is separate from the rest of Thailand, they will not have the confidence to visit the country.”
There is optimism among hotel operators that international tourists are impatient to travel again, but most believe this is more likely to be seen in the last quarter of the year. They say the performance of the Phuket sandbox model will determine how the areas participating at a later stage will fare.
Meanwhile, Yuthasak says the TAT will provide ongoing information on Phuket’s re-opening plan, including daily infection rates, the progress of the vaccine rollout, and the capacity of the healthcare system.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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