On Monday 27th September the reopening of Hua Hin to vaccinated foreign tourists was confirmed for Nov 1st, it had originally been planned for October 1st. Hua Hin city and Nong Kae district will be one of nine regions, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phang Nga, Krabi, Pattaya, and neighbouring Cha-am, to reopen on Nov 1st, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, (CCSA), announced.
Thailand will also scrap its mandatory hotel room quarantine for all vaccinated foreign tourists from November 1st, instead, vaccinated tourists will be able to roam freely in designated areas, rather than being confined to a hotel room.
The designated area in Hua Hin includes two whole districts, Hua Hin and Nong Kae, which measures more than 80 square kilometers and covers approximately from Hua Hin Airport to Khao Tao. In Phetchaburi, vaccinated foreign tourists will be able to move freely throughout all of Cha Am district, while in Chonburi, vaccinated tourists will be allowed to visit Pattaya, Bang Lamung, Jomtien and Bang Sare.
Meanwhile, hotel quarantine will also be reduced for visitors arriving from Oct 1st, the CCSA halving it to seven days for vaccinated arrivals, and cutting it to 10 days for those not inoculated. The CCSA also announced easing of restrictions in all 29 ºdark red’ provinces, which includes Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi.
From October 1st, the curfew in dark red provinces will be reduced by one hour to 10pm-4am and restaurants will be permitted to remain open until 9pm, and play live music, but alcohol remains prohibited. Other venues, such as spas, libraries, cinemas, indoor sports venues and nail salons will also be allowed to reopen from Oct 1st.
The tourism operators in Hua Hin district have agreed with the governments decision to postpone the opening from October 1st to November 1st, whilst the province increase their vaccination rollout and the infection numbers continue to drop as the virus is brought under more control.
In the meantime, Hua Hin is seeing more Thai tourists coming to the city during the holidays and the district health body is working to improve standards for public taxis in preparation for the full opening of the city. Most private operators seem to be in agreement with the delay too, they want to see the 70% vaccination threshold reached in the area first. In the country overall the number of infections is still high and not stable, and within Hua Hin district itself, even though the number of vaccinations is on target infections have continued. Mr. Sirisak Sirimangkala, Deputy governor of Prachuap Khiri Khan province, held a meeting of the working groups to prepare for the tourism pilot in order to monitor the progress of the team work within the groups.
These included the vaccine distribution plans, urban development plans to support smart cities, marketing plans, committees of an incident response and risk management plan in the event of an increased number of infections, the local understanding knowledge team, and the Standard Action Plan working group, all of them are expected to be completed by October 15th. And also, key stakeholders met on Tuesday Sept 2th to discuss details regarding the November 1st reopening of Hua Hin.
The meeting which was chaired by Mr. Isara Satanaset, Prachuap Khiri Khan Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the meeting aimed to discuss drafting the guidelines, or rather Standard Operating Procedures, (SOP), for welcoming foreign tourists next month. The draft SOP centres around five factors!
-Ensuring venues meet SHA+ standards
-Having a city wide monitoring system, CCTV, operating throughout
-Establishing a marketing and communication plan
-Establishing a command center, with the Mor Prom/Thai Chana apps used to monitor tourists in real time
-Communicating the reopening to locals in Hua Hin
Tourists will be required to travel from Suvarnabhumi to Hua Hin on specially chartered buses which will also need to have met the SHA+ safety standards.
If there are too few tourists to warrant using a bus, then other vehicles such as cars may be used instead. Whichever vehicle type is used, the journey from Suvarnabhumi airport to Hua Hin will form part of a so-called ºsealed route’.
Mr. Kittipong Siriphetkasem, Vice President of Hua Hin-Cha-am Tourism Business Association added that the Hua Hin Car Company Limited has already applied for the SHA standards. If approved, then cars rather than buses may be more convenient for tourists to travel between Suvarnabhumi and Hua Hin. The issue was then raised regarding toilet stops for passengers, one solution put forward was to establish a stop along the sealed route, which would also need to pass the SHA+ safety standards. Under the November 1st reopening plans, tourists are not required to quarantine in a hotel room but they are restricted in terms of where they can travel to in Hua Hin. Under the plans, vaccinated tourists can travel freely within Hua Hin and Nong Kae districts within the first seven days of their arrival, after that, providing they test negative for Covid-19, they can travel elsewhere in Thailand.
However, the issue was raised that three of the areas leading golf courses – namely Banyan, Black Mountain and Springfield, are located outside Hua Hin and Nong Kae districts, therefore a proposal was put forward to establish local ºsealed routes’ to each of the golf courses, in which visitors could be safely transported to and from the golf course from their hotels. The final draft of the SOP then needs to be approved by Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, (CCSA), prior to it being implemented.