A leading Pattaya business and tourism association president is still pushing for Pattaya to be a sandbox to attract foreign tourists.
A sandbox is a program that allows international tourists to enter a district or city and stay at certified hotels for seven days while having freedom to roam the local area, with certain rules and Covid19 testing. The program was suspended in Pattaya and most areas last month due to concerns of Omicron, a Covid-19 variant that is fast spreading, but is still in place in Koh Samui, Phuket, and some other mostly island areas. Test and Go, a program allowing rapid entry to the country with a Covid19 test, is also currently suspended, limiting entry access to tourists overall to Thailand.
The only options in play at this time for foreign tourists to enter Thailand are sandboxes on the aforementioned islands or strict hotel quarantine for seven to ten days depending on vaccination status.
In turn, this hurts Pattaya which is highly reliant on tourism for the majority of its economy.
Mr. Boonanan Pattanasin, the president of the Pattaya Businessmen and Tourism Association, told TPN media, “We are pushing for Pattaya to be a ‘Sandbox’ same as Phuket. The Pattaya City Hall has volunteered to be a command center, track down tourists, and manage business venues. The sandbox provides more health safety measures than the Test & Go scheme with an effective ‘SHA Manager’ tracking system.”
SHA, or Safety and Health Administration, is a certification program for businesses with various different levels and strict health measures and checklists.
“Many people might have questions on why we want to do a Sandbox during this Omicron situation. We want to move on under careful measurements. Omicron and Covid-19 is not going away, that’s evident with the situation around the world. We must learn to live with Covid. Keeping borders mostly closed is not the answer to fixing Covid or the economy.” Boonanan stated.
“In the past three months, only 30,000 tourists visited Pattaya and Chonburi via Test & Go and 300 tourists visited Thursday (January 13th). These tourists had been approved before the current suspension of Test and Go. Although the numbers do not sound like much, this was improving weekly until Test and Go was suspended and many businesses were benefiting from having more tourists. We need to keep moving to boost tourism and economy.” Boonanan added.
Boonanan also noted that many business owners and tourists were displeased with strict measures around restaurants and entertainment style venues, especially a 9PM cutoff time for places that serve alcohol. He noted that the association was urging businesses to comply with the measures in hopes that the Covid19 situation would improve and unpopular restrictions like early closing times and required Covid19 testing for customers of alcohol serving venues would be eased.
TPN media notes that to become a sandbox would need approval from the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, or CCSA, in Bangkok who controls covid measures centrally. They are expected to meet next week to discuss the current Covid19 situation in Thailand but there has been no hints that expanding sandboxes to Pattaya would be on the agenda.
As a reference to this article:
We are also working with Pattaya and Chonburi health officials to find up to 8,000 available beds in hospitals, hotels, and various types of quarantine centers.