From Oct 1, Phuket will be the first destination in Thailand allowed to receive international tourists since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
However, one key condition is that international tourists must stay at least 14 days in quarantine, which can be served at any approved ALSQ venue.
A recent surge of 27 applications saw the number of hotels in Phuket applying to be ALSQ certified jump from 55 to 82, explained PPHO Chief Thanit Sermkaew.
However, despite 14 hotels applying more than a month ago, only two have been approved: the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket (100 rooms and 36 villas) and Trisara Phuket Villas and Residences (15 villas).
A third resort, The Mangosteen Ayurveda & Wellness Resort, has been inspected and approved by Phuket health officers, but is still waiting for Bangkok officials to officially recognise as an ALSQ, PPHO Deputy Chief Padungkiet Utokasenee told The Phuket News today.
Only after local health officials have inspected a hotel can they request officials in Bangkok to approve the hotel as an ALSQ. Mr Padungkiet explained.
Mr Padungkiet declined to confirm how many hotels on the island PPHO officers had inspected for ALSQ validation.
Asked what was causing the long delay, Mr Padungkiet said, “Many hotels have applied, but most of them do not have a good understanding of what is required. They do not know the conditions.”
The process is very involved, requiring an overhaul of the processes and services provided at hotels, Mr Padungkiet explained. (The full list of requirements for hotels to become an ALSQ verified are posted by the Ministry of Public Health here.)
“Most of the hotels are not ready to be designated as ALSQ. Some of them are still reworking their budgets, staffing and their buildings to satisfy ALSQ requirements, which includes the hotel partnering with a hospital,” he added.
“Also, the hotel needs to establish a medical area on site, which will require extra investment in order to have the appropriate equipment,” he said.
“They want to be ALSQ, but they are not ready," Mr Padungkiet said plainly.
Hotels may continue to submit their applications to become ALSQ approved until Oct 31, Mr Padungkiet noted.
However, he pointed out that some hotels are expected to withdraw their applications later if the hotel wants to target only domestic tourists.
“Some hotels are worried about their target market as their clients are Thai nationals. They are worried that if their hotel opens to receive foreign guests, Thai guests might not come. Then some of them might decide to deregister as an ALSQ later,” he said.
Mr Padungkiet said he was unsure if the PPHO would even be able to inspect all the hotels that have already applied by Oct 1, the date set to allow foriegn tourists to land in Phuket.
“I think our team can handle it. The hotels just need to be ready for the inspection. We are glad to do our job and keep people safe,” he concluded.