The following is a press release. The thoughts and statements within are their own.
Koh Samui, Thailand-
Skål International Thailand [SIT], the governing body for Thailand’s six Skål Clubs, launched its new webinar series Skål Talks Thailand – ‘Recovery Strategies 2021’ with a presentation entitled ‘Samui – Primed for Reopening’.
Guest speaker, Khun Jo Poolsawadee, President of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui [TAKS], unveiled plans to re-open Thailand’s second-largest island to international tourism, following the launch of the Phuket ‘Sand Box’ scheme set for July 1st – still to be confirmed.
Speaking in his voluntary capacity as head of TAKS, Khun Jo Poolsawadee is critically involved in the process of reopening Koh Samui to international tourism, bringing together organizations such as TAKS, Thailand Hotels Association [THA], Tourism Association of Thailand [TAT], and SKÅL, as well as working with local, provincial and Bangkok government agencies in a bid to realize his ‘Sealed and Secure Route’ initiative which was first submitted to the Thai Government in March this year.
Plans for an August 2021 roll-out of this plan are now under Government consideration.
The full webinar ‘Samui – Primed for Reopening’ is now available on YouTube, seeing the following link: https://youtu.be/g1t5n1_NUoI
For a summary of highlights of the presentation:
· Creation of a Master Plan to combine the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao into one tourism body under the tile Gulf of Thailand – giving it a stronger voice in its mission to reopen tourism.
· Almost no Covid cases in Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao over the past two months. Samui has its own testing lab as well as an on-the-ground, rapid-deployment operational team, and hospital capacity making it ready and able to cope with any Covid outbreak.
· Vaccination plan is already well advanced, out of a population of 125,000, 43% [54,472] has already been vaccinated, targeting 70% [87,660] for herd immunity by end of July, including foreigners. Koh Phangan and Koh Tao with a population of 21,000 have already received 2,000 vaccinations with 13,000 to go for herd immunity.
· The Samui Sealed Route model is based on a 7-Day ‘Samui Plus Package’ to be rolled out with ASQ Government-approved hotels and private villas. Day 0 – visitors get the first swab, if the result is negative, they can spend Days 1-7 enjoying CDC-approved relaxation facilities. After Day 4 visitors can travel on the Samui ‘Sealed Route’ with approved operators of tours and boating, beaches [designated only for visitors], yoga and other classes, and spa. On Day 7 visitors can travel freely in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao.
· Cooperation with Bangkok Airways to maximize on Phuket ‘Sand Box’ to re-introduce direct flights between Phuket and Koh Samui. Also, on the dedicated use of terminals of E9 and E10 at Suvarnabhumi Airport for direct transfers to Koh Samui. Also proposed is the use of Suratthani Airport for long-haul flights.
· Islands’ reopening to coincide with the introduction of a series of improvement projects including road safety and transportation, zoning for water sports, new environmental policies as well as infrastructure projects such as street lighting along Chaweng Beach. The local community is also set to benefit from the reopening through initiatives to put local farmers and producers together with hotel and restaurant operators.
Commenting on the success of the launch event, James McManaman, President of Skål Koh Samui and initiator of webinar series said, “We are absolutely delighted with the reception of our debut event, we had a sold-out audience of 100+ Skal Thailand members and non-members, and we hope that this sets a precedent for our future webinars focusing on the topic of recovery.”
In opening the webinar, Skål International Thailand President, Wolfgang Grimm, praised the collaborative efforts of TAKS, TAT, THA, and SKÅL in supporting the travel and hospitality community throughout the pandemic, and emphasized his organization’s mission to ‘Connect Tourism Globally’.
Skål International is the world’s largest global network of Tourism Professionals promoting Tourism, Travel, Business, and Friendship worldwide since 1934. Its members are Directors and Executives of the Tourism sector who connect with each other to address issues of common interest, improving a business network, and promoting destinations.