Thais flock to Hua Hin as lockdown eased, reopening to foreign tourists cautioned
More Thai people have been travelling to the coastal town of Hua Hin, in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, since the partial easing of COVID-19 restrictions. The proposed reopening to foreign arrivals next month, however, should be postponed, said Vice President of Thai Hotels Association Udom Srimahachota.
The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) will soon decide on the proposed reopening of the resort, more popular among Thai tourists than foreigners, under the “Hua Hin Recharge” scheme.
With some lockdown measures eased in late August, hotels in Hua Hin, including those on Cha-am beach in Phetchaburiprovince, developed promotions to attract tourists and Mr. Udom expects their numbers to increase this week.
The association’s Vice President, who’s also an advisor to the Hua Hin-Cha-am Tourism Association, also explained that,normally, Thai people travel to Hua Hin and Cha-am in October, as it coincides with the school break and the high-season. 75% of the tourists are Thais.
As such, he doesn’t really agree with the “Hua Hin Recharge” scheme, which is expected to welcome foreign tourists from October 1st without a quarantine, but with the requirement forseveral RT-PCR tests, as Thai people might be afraid to come.
He suggests that it would be better to postpone the “Hua Hin recharge” scheme to December, as there would be more foreign tourists arriving, mostly coming from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, France and Switzerland.
When asked about expected revenue, he thinks that up to 1 billion baht per month can be generated if the third phase of the “Rao Tiew Duay Kan” (We Travel Together) scheme and the “Tour Tiew Thai” program are approved by this October. He thinks it is also possible that “Hua Hin recharge” will generate up to 1.2 billion baht within three months.
The reopening of Hua Hin and Cha-am should, however, be done in parallel, because tourists often travel between the two areas, Mr. Udom said, adding that the “Hua Hin recharge”scheme should also cover the entire provinces of PrachuapKhiri Khan and Phetchaburi, and should reopen when 80-100% of their populations are fully vaccinated, which includes tourists, business owners, staff and the public.
Currently, Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, and Surat Thani are the only provinces welcoming foreign arrivals in the “sandbox” scheme.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha initially declared the whole of Thailand will completely reopen to overseas visitors by mid-October, but with the continued spread of the COVID-19, he has backtracked on the promise, saying during the censure debate at the beginning of the month that if complete reopening is not possible by then, only some sectors will.