Thai holiday island Koh Samui reopens to tourists

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Thai tourist destination Koh Samui island welcomed international visitors after the Thai government announced its quarantine-free travel scheme on November 1.

Bangkok Airways Flight PG 5125 delivered 51 fully-vaccinated foreign tourists – the first batch to enter Thailand after its reopening – to Samui International Airport.

The airline has also increased flights to the holiday island to 12 flights, for a total of 450 tourists. Three other passengers also flew to Koh Samui directly from Singapore.

The tourists are required to go through a swab test on arrival and wait for 6 hours for the results before entry.

Ratchaporn Poolsawat, president of the Koh Samui Tourism Promotion Association, said Koh Samui has been prepared to accept foreign visitors since October in order to revive Thailand’s tourism industry. However, they have had to bolster the number of checkpoint officers at Samui International Airport to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Under the ‘Test and Go’ program, fully-vaccinated tourists flying in from 63 pre-approved nations can travel freely across Thailand, provided they test negative for Covid-19 upon arrival.

Two years ago, tourism made up an estimated 21 per cent of Thailand’s GDP, generating 1.8 trillion baht in revenue. However, the country’s National Economic and Social Development Council predicted that it could be another five years before similar numbers are seen.

Analysts said that between now and 2026, around seven million workers will continue to be affected by the economic harm from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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