Three world heritage sites expected to generate Bt30 billion tourism income
A five-year plan beginning in 2023 to develop three world heritage sites in Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet provinces for sustainable tourism is expected to generate up to Bt30 billion in tourism income within 2027.
The plan was unveiled by Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) on Friday.
“The three sites are Sukhothai Historical Park and Si Satchanalai Historical Park in Sukhothai province, which have the combined potential of generating Bt19.7 billion in five years, and the Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park in Kamphaeng Phet province, which can generate Bt10.3 billion in five years,” said Dasta director Athikhun Khongmee.
“Under this five-year plan, Dasta will use the budget of Bt712 million to implement 50 projects to improve the sites that have been announced as world heritage sites by Unesco to promote sustainable tourism,” he said. “We will adhere to the regulations of Global Sustainable Tourism Council [GSTC] to make sure the sites meet international standards.”
Three world heritage sites expected to generate Bt30 billion tourism income
“Dasta will also develop the tourism routes that link the three historical parks to other tourist attractions in the provinces to attract a wider group of tourists and warrant longer stay, which will help generate sustainable income to the surrounding communities whose economy have been hit by Covid-19,” he added.
Dasta will submit the plan to the Office of National Tourism Policy (ONTP)’s board of directors for approval, who will then forward the proposal to the Cabinet to approve the budget.
Earlier the ONTP had approved Dasta’s five-year plan of developing designated areas for sustainable tourism in Loei province.
Dasta is also working on similar five-year plans for historical sites in Nan, Chonburi and Suphan Buri provinces.
Phuket sandbox rules for travellers 1. Vaccinated foreign travellers must travel from countries approved by the CCSA and must have been for no less than 21 days before their travel date. They must apply for a Certificate of Entry (COE). 2. The tourist must also test negative for Covid-19 via an RT-PCR test, which will be performed twice during their stay in Phuket. 3. Travellers must stay in an SHA+ hotel or accommodation for the first 14 nights.
Travellers who stay on Phuket for less than 14 nights must leave the island immediately on an international flight to another country.
Travellers must complete 14 nights on Phuket before being allowed to visit other Thai destinations such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Krabi. They can also stay seven nights in Phuket and another seven nights on nearby islands.
These islands are: Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao in Surat Thani province; Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai and Railay Beach in Krabi province; and Khao Lak, Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai in Phang Nga province.
Koh Phayam next Thai island set to reopen to foreign travellersKoh Phayam next Thai island set to reopen to foreign travellersKoh Phayam next Thai island set to reopen to foreign travellersKoh Phayam next Thai island set to reopen to foreign travellers
CCSA sets up guidelines for reopening Thailand in time for high season
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Wednesday released new guidelines for reopening the country to tourists from October.
This was in response to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s call on agencies to devise a system for reopening the country during the high season this year.
The CCSA’s new guidelines are: • Survey what areas can be reopened under sandbox conditions in line with the Phuket Sandbox scheme. If they are islands, they can join the 7+7 sandbox extension. If they are areas that have airports, then a system can be set up to conduct Covid-19 tests on new arrivals. • Come up with prevention and control measures in areas that will be opened. Ensure locals are prepared and make enough vaccines available to curb the spread of the virus. • See if the areas to be reopened have enough hospital beds and medics to treat patients should infections spread.
The Public Health and Tourism and Sports ministries are expected to discuss details of these measures, after which the Interior and Tourism and Sports Ministries will start reopening the country in two phases: • Phase 1 from October 1: Areas ready to reopen under sandbox schemes. • Phase 2 from October 15 or November 1: Reopening destinations that either have cultural attractions, mountains or seas in the North and the East of the country.
Meanwhile, the plan to reopen Bangkok by October 1 has been postponed by two weeks because most residents are waiting for their second jab.
So far, 37 per cent of the city’s population has been fully vaccinated, while another 33 per cent are waiting for their second shot.
Apart from Bangkok, the reopening of Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Hua hin and Cha-am is also in the pipeline. Thailand has already opened Phuket and Koh Samui under sandbox conditions, followed by Krabi and Phang Nga.
Bangkok, 4 other provinces, will definitely open on Oct 1, says tourism ministry
The Tourism and Sports Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that five provinces will open their doors to foreign tourists on October 1.
The provinces are Bangkok, Chonburi, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chiang Mai.
The government has decided to go ahead with the second phase reopening after the first phase of opening four provinces under sandbox conditions proved to be a success. Phuket was reopened on July 1 and Phang Nga, Krabi and Surat Thani soon after.
More provinces will open in the third phase, which will kick off in mid-October. Provinces under this phase include Lamphun, Phrae, Nan, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Sukhothai, Udon Thani, Nong Khai, Bueng Kan, Ubon Ratchathani, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Trat and Ayutthaya.
Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn said the only obstacle to reopening would be if the number of new Covid-19 cases soared. He said the ministry is 100-per-cent prepared and expects provinces in the third phase to open on time.
He added that he will discuss the reopening of other provinces with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha first.
He went on to say that Phuket has an average of 200 Covid-19 cases daily and that the provincial governor has launched proactive testing sessions in every community, especially among migrant workers and fishermen.
He said this situation should be solved by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, the “Rao Tiew Duay Kan” (We Travel Together) and “Tour Teaw Thai” (Travel around Thailand) stimulus measures will be open for registration on September 24 and people will be able to travel from October 15 onwards.
Visitors barred from Phi Phi islands until Sept 18 to contain Covid
Krabi’s Phi Phi islands will be temporarily closed to visitors from Saturday until September 18 to curb the spread of Covid-19, the islands’ Tourism Business Association announced on Friday.
“The closure will not apply to tourists under the Phuket Sandbox campaign, who can still travel to the islands provided they comply with the programme’s requirements,” said the association.
“Exceptions will be made for medical emergency, transportation of consumer products, drugs and other necessities as well as urgent police business. Certificate of vaccination and/or Covid-19 test results may be required before an entry is granted.”
The Krabi public health office reported on Friday that 104 new cases had been found in the province, bringing cumulative cases to 2,104 patients, 1,529 of whom have been cured and discharged. The areas that have reported the most infections are Khlong Thom district at 49 patients, followed by Nua Khlong district 27, Ko Lanta district 19, and Muang district 9. As for the Phi Phi Islands, so far seven cumulative cases have been reported with 36 more people currently in quarantine as they had close contact with infected persons.
The province has supplied 45,000 sets of self-test kits to Koh Phi Phi Administration Organisation to use for active testing on the islands.
Phi Phi Islands came to worldwide prominence when Ko Phi Phi Le was used as a location for the British-American film “The Beach”. An increase in tourism was attributed to the film’s release, which resulted in increased environmental degradation.
Samui Plus Model misses the target on number of foreign visitors
The island of Samui in Surat Thani province has seen only 628 foreign visitors as of September 7, lower than the target of 1,000, per month, since the launch of the “Samui Plus Model” on July 15.
Among foreign visitors to Samui, the top three countries are France (118 visitors), Germany (96) and the United Kingdom (95).
The Samui Plus Model is a more liberal tourism “sandbox” programme that aims to promote the local tourism industry by reopening certain areas of Surat Thani to foreign visitors. Under the programme, vaccinated visitors are required to stay on the property of a participating hotel for the first three days. From day 4 to 7, only travel to specific routes and destinations are permitted. From day 8 to 14, tourists can travel anywhere in Samui, and even go to Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao. On the 15th day, a visitor can leave Samui and travel anywhere in Thailand.
“The programme needs to adjust its criteria by eliminating the period in which visitors have to stay in the hotel to attract more visitors,” Phatcharaphorn Phoonsawas, president of Samui Tourism Promotion Association, said on Thursday.
Samui Plus Model misses the target on number of foreign visitors
“We will soon submit the proposal to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration so that it can be implemented before October 1.
“Furthermore, we are planning to reduce the price of testing via RT-PCR method, which visitors must take three times during their stay in Samui, from Bt15,000 per person to lower than Bt8,000 per person to attract more visitors,” added Phatcharaphorn.
“We believe that under the new criteria, Samui will see at least 4,500 tourists in the fourth quarter [October-December], or 1,500 visitors per month, which will help generate income of Bt90 million to Bt112 million to local entrepreneurs,” he added.
Thailand still one of top three destinations for Indian tourists
Thailand is one of the top three destinations that Indians want to visit, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said citing several recent surveys.
Asurvey on 4,000 people conducted in June by global travel group Thomas Cook found that 46 per cent of them wanted to travel overseas. It also found that apart from Thailand, the other top destinations they want to visit are Abu Dhabi/Dubai and the Maldives.
An earlier survey in April by InterMiles involving 11,500 respondents found that 65 per cent were planning overseas trips.
“Thailand enjoyed the status of being a very popular destination for Indian travellers before the pandemic, and it is extremely encouraging to see this will likely continue once we reopen to the Indian market,” said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn. “Meanwhile, one of TAT’s priorities is to ensure that health and safety measures are employed in Thailand for all visitors.”
Looking ahead, TAT is working with two possible scenarios on the inbound Indian market based on seat capacity and estimated tourist arrivals from October 1 to December 31.
The first of these scenarios envisions commercial flights being resumed from the major cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, which would result in 24,500 Indians visiting Thailand during the 14-week period and generating a revenue of 1.09 billion baht.
The second scenario envisions weekly chartered flights to Thailand from New Delhi and Mumbai in place of commercial flights, resulting in 4,200 Indians visiting and generating an income of 187.7 million baht.
The revenue estimate is based on 2019 records that showed Indian travellers stayed seven days in Thailand on average and spent 44,688 baht per person.
Meanwhile, in the most recent survey conducted by TAT on 300 travel agents in Mumbai and New Delhi, 94 per cent said there was plenty of potential travellers waiting for Thailand to reopen. Some 80 per cent said Indian travellers spend an average of seven days on holiday and 33 per cent placed priority on safety and health, 25 per cent on tourism activities and the remainder on attractive offers.
However, current pilot reopening schemes like the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus were cited as unattractive to Indian travellers.
Market outlook for 2022
Based on the assumption that Thailand will reopen to Indian travellers in the last quarter of this year, the TAT Mumbai and New Delhi offices are continuing to place focus on main movers, like golf, weddings and millennials.
Phuket remains the top destination for Indian weddings, followed by Hua Hin, Rayong and Samui. An Indian wedding, known for its extravagance, on average costs between 5 million and 6 million baht with 200 to 300 guests.
Indian market overview pre-pandemic
In 2019, a total of 1.96 million Indians travelled to Thailand, generating revenue of just over 80 million baht. This represented a growth of 25.48 per cent in terms of arrivals and an income growth of 19.96 per cent. At that time, there were more than 300 flights from Thailand to India weekly, while Indian airlines GoAir and IndiGo also opened direct links to Phuket, resulting in more Indians visiting there.
Results from a TAT survey on the Indian market for 2019 showed that 94 per cent of travel agents foresaw a demand for travel to Thailand. Escorted groups constitute the largest type of traveller who would visit Thailand in 2021/2022 at 35 per cent, followed by small groups at 30 per cent, couples and honeymooners at 20 per cent, and families with children at 15 per cent.
The average length of stay was less than seven days (80 per cent), between seven and 14 days (15 per cent), and 30 days or more (5 per cent). Factors considered in travelling to Thailand were health, hygiene and safety (33 per cent), connectivity (25 per cent), competitive pricing (17 per cent), and others (25 per cent).
The survey concluded that 34 per cent of promotions should focus on mid-market, 27 per cent on luxury, 24 per cent on budget and 15 per cent on all segments.
Wedding market segment
TAT conducted another survey of destination wedding planners in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Surat, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Vadodara, Goa and Chennai. This survey showed that Phuket and Krabi were the most popular for weddings (72.41 per cent), followed next by Hua Hin and Rayong (65.52 per cent), Samui (43.1 per cent), Bangkok (25.86 per cent), Pattaya (22.41 per cent), and others (5.17 per cent).
The period most considered for a wedding in Thailand was January-June and July-December 2022 (both at 55.17 per cent), followed by November-December 2021 (34.48 per cent) and September-October 2021 (8.62 per cent).
In terms of the wedding size and the associated room requirements, the largest portion was for 50-100 rooms (at 51.72 per cent), followed by 101-150 rooms (43.1 per cent), above 150 rooms (15.52 per cent), and less than 50 rooms (6.9 per cent).
Length of stay came in at 57 per cent for three days/two nights, 40 per cent for four days/three nights, and 3 per cent for more than four days (for over 50 guests).