Domestic tourism in Thailand has ground to a halt as travellers fear infection from the delta variant of covid-19 that’s surging central Thailand. The country record high of 11,397 new Covid-19 cases and 101 deaths over the past 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry reported on Sunday.
Koh Chang and Koh Kut, two popular islands in southern Thailand’s Trat province, have seen a sharp drop in tourists this weekend as people are avoiding travel because of worries about Covid-19.
The ferry that normally carries hundreds of holidaymakers in their cars from the Trat mainland was filled mainly with trucks and pickups carrying goods on Saturday.
Trat province reported between 24 and 34 new coronavirus infections a day during the past three days. In Koh Chang district, four infections were reported at tambon Koh Chang Tai. On Saturday, only a small number of cars with tourists were using the ferry service to Koh Chang.
About 100 to 150 tourists visited neighbouring Koh Kut on Saturday. The Boonsiri boat service is the only operator serving the island at the moment, running just one trip a day.
Covid fears halting domestic tourism
Saksit Mungkarn, chairman of the Trat Tourism Industry Council said the tourism situation in Trat, particularly in Koh Chang and Koh Kut, looked bleak as strict restrictions imposed to curb the soaring number of Covid infections have resulted in a small number of local tourists visiting the province.
Hoteliers and resort operators on Koh Chang have been badly hurt as they have had no revenue for several months. Some had to close their businesses, he said.
The government is hoping to gradually open more tourist destinations to vaccinated foreign visitors by October if current trials in Phuket and Samui prove successful. However, the relentless spread of the Delta coronavirus variant has tourism operators wondering if the timeline will have to be changed.
The Trat tourism council is pushing for provincial authorities to accelerate vaccinations as much as possible to boost confidence among tourists, said Mr Saksit.
Trat reported two Covid deaths and another 22 infections on Saturday, raising fatalities in the province to four and the cumulative provincial total to 562 cases.