Thanet Phetsuwan, deputy director for communications and marketing at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the October plan may be postponed to Nov 1 because of the condition that each area must inoculate 70% of its population, reports the Bangkok Post.
The announcement came after TAT had a meeting with a working group under the Public Health Ministry about the reopening proposal before it was submitted to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
The public health ministry also raised concerns about the volatile virus situation in the country, with new cases still over 10,000 every day.
The five affected provinces which were due to reopen next month are: Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and the city of Bangkok.
Chiang Mai’s reopening plan is set to receive tourists under the 7+7 extension programme from the Phuket Sandbox in its early stages. The TAT will monitor tourism demand before implementing the next phase of reopening via direct flights in January 2022.
Mr Thanet said international airlines are ready to operate flights to Chiang Mai once there is enough demand, especially from Korean golfers.
“We cannot expect an influx of demand here as the current gateway is Phuket,” Mr Thanet said.
As the province relies more on the domestic market during winter, operators want to test the international market with the 7+7 model first.
He said that even though the international reopening had been postponed and adjusted, the plan to restart domestic travel in Chiang Mai on Oct 1 remains the same.
La-Iad Bungsrithong, president of the Thai Hotels Association’s northern chapter, said tourism operators in Chiang Mai have had to shift their focus to the domestic market as international arrivals are dependent on government policy.
The winter season remains the key driver for Chiang Mai tourism, particularly after the third phase of We Travel Together, a hotel subsidy, resumes in October.
At present, 30% of 60,000 hotel rooms across the province are back in business, while most of them are waiting for the response to the government-sponsored subsidy programme.
Pattaya City Mayor Sonthaya Khunpluem says Pattaya is on track to restarting its tourism sector on Oct 1, although the schedule could be deferred, the Bangkok Post noted in a separate report.
The so-called ’”Pattaya Moves On’” tourism sandbox remains on track for reopening on Oct 1 as confirmed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Mr Sonthaya said.
Chon Buri is one of five provinces planned for the Oct 1 reopening. However, only tourist-magnet areas and the districts of such provinces will see the resumption of tourism businesses.
Pol Gen Aswin was looking at reopening close to the middle of November.
On Tuesday, Mr Sonthaya said Pattaya was fully prepared to welcome back foreign visitors on Oct 1, although he has made room for disappointment if the date were to be pushed back.
The Pattaya Moves On programme will follow the standards of tourism sandbox practices adopted by Phuket where foreign visitors must be fully vaccinated, are subject to Covid-19 tests during their stay and travel in sealed routes.
"We will comply with additional measures that might be put in place for enhanced public health safety," he said.
Mr Sonthaya added the rate of vaccination was crucial for restoring tourism. He said 70% of those living in Pattaya are immunised.
Meanwhile, Charintip Tiyaphorn, president of the Tourism Council of Krabi, said the proposal for reopening the whole province will be submitted to the CCSA’s subcommittee meeting today.
Approximately 400,000 doses are needed to reach 70% vaccination as Krabi can administer 15,000 doses a day. If the goal is achieved, it will be ready to fully reopen by the end of October.
Ms Charintip said international airlines from Singapore, Malaysia and Scandinavian countries want to operate five scheduled flights per day to Krabi airport by Oct 31.