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To build trust among local tourists, Phuket has postponed reopening to international tourists until the end of the Vegetarian Festival.
Dr. Kajornsak Kaewcharat, the Deputy Director-General of the Disease Control Department, said the first group of 150 Chinese tourists scheduled to arrive in Phuket on Oct. 8 would come after Oct. 25.
The postponement came after a meeting between provincial officials and tourism operators to build trust among Thai visitors who plan to visit Phuket for the 17-25 October Vegetarian Festival.
The provincial authorities of Phuket will subsequently recommend to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) that the province be ready for the return of foreign tourists and that the final decision on the issue is made by the CCSA.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn explained to the press in Bangkok that the first foreign tourists allowed into Thailand will be a group of 150 Chinese nationals, all entering the country on a new Special Tourist Visa (STV).
The international tourists will be arriving on a chartered flight for selected groups of foreigners under the conditional entry system.
The Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) also endorsed its arrival.
Mr. Phipat clarified that, on a chartered Air Asia flight, the group would fly directly to Phuket. He added that one more, smaller, group of seven Chinese businessmen would arrive by private jet on the same day at Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
It also follows the coordination of the Phuket Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) with domestic airline companies to add more flights to Phuket during the coming Vegetarian Festival.
In hopes of tidying it through the high season, Phuket's hotel industry leaders urge the government to define a timeline for the beleaguered sector. Phuket hotels are striving to retain operational profitability dependent on domestic tourism.
What remains evident is that, with only domestic demand, the 86,000 hotel rooms in Phuket's registered accommodation establishments can not actually break-even or even be cash-flow positive.
Realistically, this could set the stage for 50,000 job losses this year in the hotel sector. And more, if no assistance is available or foreign tourists are not allowed in.
There appears to be a lot of debate about the Phuket hotel situation. The lack of national and local agreement on the proposed long-stay visa program.