Tourism operators on the Island of Koh Samui are preparing to urge the government to get cheap flights for tourists to the island. Foreign and domestic. Even more as hotels have been approved for alternative local state quarantine (ALSQ) status. Including a five-star cluster owned by one of Thailand’s richest families.
The roaming cabinet meeting scheduled for Nov 2-3 in Koh Samui, Surat Thani and Phuket will focus on the tourism stimulus plan for southern provinces. Even more as Thailand has rolled out a reopening plan for long-stay travellers with a mandatory 14-day quarantine. A plan to be implemented under the long stay special tourist visa program.
Vorasit Pongkumpunt, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said the industry is ready to take the first step in welcoming international tourists using the special tourist visa. Eight hotels have already been certified for ALSQ.
Of those approvals, some hotels on Koh Samui want to capture inbound market opportunities. Once again before officially announcing the package for international guests as the Thai market starts to gain some momentum.
Visiting Koh Samui with cheaper transport costs
Mr Vorasit said the number of ALSQs in Koh Samui will remain at this level. No new hotels decided to apply for the program, as the number of available ALSQ rooms fulfills the healthcare capacity for Koh Samui.
Mr Vorasit said Koh Samui tourism operators don’t expect the long-stay market to fill up vacant rooms. Koh Samui can cater only to hundreds of travellers per month, he said.
Operators need the government to help strengthen demand from the local market with cheap flights. Also the future inbound market by reducing transport costs to Surat Thani province.
“We want the government to find any practical solutions to help travellers visiting Koh Samui with cheaper transport costs,” Mr Vorasit said. “Unfortunately, all entry points to the island — both airport and pier — are owned by the private sector. Bargaining for price reduction is hard.” One reason flights to Koh Samui are no cheap flights is the airport is owned by Bangkok Airways. The airline is owned by Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth who built the Koh Samui airport in 1989. Bangkok Airways holds a complete monopoly over the Island’s airport.
Four luxury hotels in Koh Samui owned by Asset World Corp (AWC), a property developer under Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s TCC Group, are ready to take part in welcoming the first batch of long stay special tourist to the islands. After their properties were inspected by the authorities. However they still want clarity about the long stay special tourist plan from the government and potential demand. Even more cheap fights to Koh Samui are necessary to help the islands hotel and tourism sector.
Let tourism operators survive
Stephan vanden Auweele, chief hospitality group officer at AWC, said all the hotels have undergone the necessary processes. Such as acquiring partner hospitals and training staff. As the domestic market has started to grow, with average occupancy hitting 25% recently.
The company has to make a careful decision, particularly for its commercial approach. If the company decides to let hotels in Koh Samui take part in this scheme, Sheraton Samui can be the first property that can cater to long stay special tourist. Because it relocated all bookings to a nearby hotel instead.
Mr vanden Auweele said that whenever Thailand reopens, long stay special tourist will want to come but it also depends on quarantine conditions. If a 14-day quarantine is mandatory, there won’t be sizeable demand.
Lifting border restrictions is also an important tool to let tourism operators survive. Which is why European countries didn’t seal their territories in response to the pandemic, Mr vanden Auweele said.
Source: Bangkok Post