The authorities said that hotels could reopen on June 1 but forgot to give any advance notices to hotels so that management could prepare staff and resources.
A hotelier told TTR weekly that the first time he learned that limits were lifted was when he received a telephone message stating that the province had declared it could reopen the hotels on the island.
“They gave no one any warning, but within 30 minutes of the text message on hotels reopening, the social security department sent out messages ending the monthly compensation payments for June”
Although the opening of hotels is a small step towards restarting the devastated tourism industry of Phuket. It has also left many hotel owners confused and feeling left in the dark.
If any, what are the quarantine guidelines? Will guests need detailed documentation? Are there any types of insurance? Who coordinates the information? Do travellers get any information when they make their reservations? How are travellers aware that the hotel is open? And if people come to Phuket, will they be needed by some provinces to do 14 days of quarantine?
So many questions have yet to be answered and clarified.
At present, Phuket can only be reached by crossing the Sarisan Bridge, the only connection to the Thai continent. The naval piers of the island are now available again, although there are only limited facilities.
What about Phuket airport?
No official announcement was made regarding the reopening of Phuket International Airport, even for domestic services. The regional authorities of the island applied last week to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand to reopen the airport, but no official response was given.
Many other airports have reopened to limited domestic flights around Thailand, but the success of rebooting domestic flights has changed constantly as air carriers fight ‘the new norm.’
Passengers also describe the whole process as “hassle” with longer time required to get to the airport, through check-in, social distance criteria and the completely impersonal flight experience with ICU staff.
Thai Air Asia, Nok Air and Vietjet Air may be conscious that the rest of us don’t know anything. Bookings are available for all three from 16 June, at least between Phuket and Bangkok. Prices range from 1,100 to 1,700 weekly in one direction after June 16. But if you are rushing to buy a ticket, whether on or off the island, you should know that today no official green light is available to resume flights.
Foreign flights into Thailand are banned until at least the end of June with no official explanation of the events following. In which countries are citizens allowed to fly? What are the restrictions and terms to be imposed? And what airlines will fly anyway?
The CAAT has already extended the prohibition on international flights twice.
Last month, the Thai government said they will use June to clear several chartered Thai citizens’ repatriation flights. That the new cases of Covid-19 in Thailand, all from Middle East countries, have returned to Thailand in the last 2 weeks is a niggling concern for the authorities to determine how, or when, international borders will re-open.
Tourism in Phuket
Although hotels are allowed to reopen, where will these mythical travellers will come from?
The biggest feeder market, weekenders from Bangkok, will be going to Pattaya or Hua Hin. They’re unlikely to take a 12-hour drive to Phuket, no matter how cheap the hotels, or pretty the beaches.
The prospects for Phuket’s hotel industry are very small as long as Thailand is closed to foreign visitors and the airport is closed off for international travel.
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