Surat Thani –
Thailand’s Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has approved, in principle, Koh Samui’s proposal called “Samui Wonder Island” to be implemented by July.
Teerapong Chuaychoo, Koh Samui Mayor and director of Koh Samui’s Department of Disease Control, participated in a meeting with related tourism board members yesterday, March 21st, to inform related departments to carefully prepare the safety protocol, titled “Samui Wonder Island”, following the CCSA’s approval in principle of having Koh Samui to be a model city to open up to foreign travelers.
Similar to the safe-and-sealed agenda (which was a previous proposal last year that was dropped, notes The Pattaya News), the plan, according to the mayor, consists of major five steps as follows:
- The ‘Samui Sealed Route Model’ plan will be implemented as soon as foreign tourists have landed in Thailand. They will be accommodated with a hotel private car from the airport to the hotel. This will include all Covid-19 health measures and protective barriers between the driver and tourists. They will have to meet all requirements, like applying through their local Thai embassy or consulate and Covid-19 testing before flying, to enter the country.
- During the second or third day of their stay, health officials will collect a nose and saliva Covid-19 swab test, in which its result will be delivered within 3 hours. The tested tourists are advised to remain in their own room while the results are being examined. The tourist will not be allowed to leave their room until this test comes back negative.
- If the test result proves negative, they are allowed to travel to certain certified premises around Koh Samui, authorized by Koh Samui’s Department of Disease Control. This will likely be in a “tour guide/group” style but will offer significantly more freedom than the current quarantine program while getting to see local tourist attractions and locations.
- If the result remains negative on the seventh day of their stay, when they will be tested again, certain foreign tourists are allowed to change their accommodations and enjoy any destination in Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao on their own until day fourteen of their stay. The reason for the word certain is some countries may not apply for this based on if they are considered “high-risk” by the Thai government, which can be based on a variety of factors including the spread of variants of Covid-19.
- On day 14, if the final Covid-19 result is still proved negative, the foreign travelers are allowed to travel across provinces to travel normally in Thailand.
Teerapong stressed that hotels that would accommodate tourists must be certified by the Department of Disease Control prior to the official island reopening. All tourists entering Koh Samui are also required to scan the QR Code Samui ‘Health Pass’ in order to record and track their travel history. They will be tracked at all times while on the island.
Ratchakorn Poonsawad, director of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, further stated that it was an honor that “Samui Wonder Island” would be initially implemented to welcome foreign tourists to Thailand for the first time after the country’s border had been closed for more than a year.
“Once an official approval is made by the Public Health Ministry, the Tourism Authority of Koh Samui would collaborate with Bangkok Airways and the Global Thai Tourism Authority to promote this campaign. It is expected to welcome the first group of Singaporean travelers by the earliest of July 1,” the director concluded.
The Pattaya News notes that this program is aimed at primarily low-risk countries and although is FAR less hassle and paperwork than current programs is a far ways away from the “fly-in and go with no quarantine” goal many people are waiting for…however, for those who wish to enjoy two weeks on Koh Samui with much more freedom than the current quarantine program, it is a possible option. The plan is also approved “in principle” which means that several final levels of checks and balances are needed before being set in stone by the Public Health Ministry.
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