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Samui Plus Travel Options

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  • Samui Plus Travel Options

    The Koh Samui Plus Travel Program

    Signalling the second of Thailand’s destinations to reopen to tourism, the Samui Plus programme was launched on 15 July 2021, allowing visitors to visit Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. They can do this by either directly entering Koh Samui or, from 16 August 2021, by travelling there after first staying 7-nights under the Phuket Sandbox, the latter option of which 347 visitors have done so.

    In the first month and a half, from 15 July to 31 August 2021, the programme has welcomed 918 visitors, with 6,329 room nights, generating 37.6 Million THB in revenue. Most of these arrivals were from European countries and the United States.

    Helping facilitate the programme are Bangkok Airways’ 92 sealed route flights between Samui and Bangkok for transit/transfer passengers to Samui Plus connecting through the Thai capital. In addition, the airline also operates flights between Phuket and Samui for visitors from the Phuket Sandbox.

    In the last quarter of this year up until 9 December, Samui Plus has currently recorded 9,195 room nights on the books from 860 visitors. These include 7,397 room nights booked 591 visitors under Samui Plus and 1,788 room nights by 269 tourists under the Phuket Sandbox and 7+7 Extension.

  • #2
    Koh Samui | from “Samui Plus Model” to "Sandbox Program"

    Next month, Koh Samuiwill switch from their “Samui Plus Model” to the looser “Sandbox” Program. The Koh Samui district chief estimates that there will be over 10,000 nights booked in hotels as a result of this change. The current model has seen Koh Samui opened for fully vaccinated tourists since July 15. 2021 District Chief Teerapong Chuaychoo says since July 15 to September 1, 524 people have visited under the Samui Plus Model. Teerapong adds that only 4 infections have been found during this period.

    A total of 331 tourists had travelled to Samui after they completed the Phuket sandbox mandatory stay, and five tourists from the 7+7 scheme. In addition, there have been 576 advance bookings by tourists from September to October, totalling 7,171 room nights.

    The chief went on to say that Koh Samui will probably reach 10,000 booking nights soon. He says the number should be higher when the Covid measures are removed in October, as per the government’s plan. At that time, the Samui Plus Model will have changed into the Samui Sandbox Programme.

    “We are ready to launch the Samui Sandbox programme from October 01. 2021 hence we have been preparing and collecting data since July,” says Teerapong.

    Under the previous plan, visitors had to stay at the property of their Samui Plus lodging for the first 3 days. Then, the visitor could leave their hotel room but still had to stay in the hotel. Then, from days 4 to 7, travel was permitted only along specific routes and approved destinations. Then, from days 8 to 14 of the visitor’s stay, they were free to travel throughout Samui and could also go to Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao. On day 15, a visitor could leave Samui and go anywhere in Thailand.
    Under the new programme, visitors will be required to spend 14 nights in Koh Samui, then they are permitted to travel to other places in Thailand. They will also have to test negative for Covid, twice, either on day 6 or 7 and then again on day 12 or 13. Other differences in the plans were not given.


    • #3
      Koh Samui Re-opening Rules

      The rules are being somewhat relaxed when it comes to the Samui Plus re-opening model, following disappointing figures. Ratchaporn Poolsawadee from the Tourism Association of Koh Samui says that from October 1, vaccinated tourists only need to spend the first night in a SHA Plus hotel, until they get the result of their PCR test. Prior to this, international tourists were required to spend the first 3 nights in an expensive alternative quarantine facility.

      The Bangkok Post reports that tourists will also be allowed to roam Samui and neighbouring Koh Phang Ngan and Koh Tao freely, without having to stick to a sealed route, as previously mandated. According to Ratchaporn, the medical costs have also been reduced from 15,000 THB per person to 8,000 THB, matching Phuket costs. It’s hoped these changes will boost tourist arrivals in the coming months.

      “The programme that started on July 15.2021 did not produce fruitful results. We need a makeover to become a quarantine-free destination with fewer restrictions to attract more demand and let more tourism operators benefit from the re-opening.”
      Ratchaporn adds that other Thai destinations that plan to re-open should learn from Samui’s experience and understand that mandatory quarantine is a significant deterrent for tourists. He adds that in order to waive such a requirement, there must be buy-in from local residents, who need to feel confident in the process.

      “We can proceed with changes this time because the tourism operators assured the local health authority and communities that more hotels will be converted to hospitels. In case of emergency, the whole sandbox area will have at least 500 beds for Covid-19 patients, up from 300 beds currently. Over 75% of our residents are also vaccinated, which is the important factor, but many provinces cannot achieve the same.”

      Meanwhile, Surat Thani tourism officials are still pinning their hopes on Russia, with Ratchaporn saying large companies like Pegas Touristik are ready to operate charter flights from November, bringing around 1,000 tourists a month, provided air travel can resume between both countries.


      • #4
        Koh Samui Plus simplified: 7-Days on Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao

        As part of the widely expanded Sandbox programmes launched or revised yesterday, the Samui Plus Sandbox has simplified and diversified its rules as well. While previously the entry to Koh Samui and the nearby islands was a 14-day programme with the first few days in full quarantine and the first week staying only on Koh Samui, the new rules allow travel to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao to occur almost immediately.

        The newly revised scheme requires tourists to travel through Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok to Koh Samui and on arrival in Bangkok travellers must download the Mor Chana app as well as the Samui Health Pass app. Then upon arrival at Samui Airport, an RT-PCR test will be administered.

        Arriving international travellers can then travel with a Samui+ licensed transport option from the airport to their SHA+ certified hotel. They must stay in their hotel room until the results of the RT-PCR test comes back negative. After that though, the revised Samui Plus program is much more free than the original plans. Travellers can then travel freely around Koh Samui, as well as Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

        Only certain piers are approved for travel though – in Samui the Lomprayah pier in Maenam is oddly the only major pier approved, along with the Phu Yai Non Pier and the Buri Rasa private pier. Koh Phangan uses the main pier on the island at Thong Sala and Koh Tao uses the main Mae Haad Pier. Popular Angthong excursion trips can go only from Nathon Pier in Samui.

        There are still some other restrictions for travellers in the Samui Plus program. All travellers must stay only in SHA+ accommodations (with a maximum of 3 changes during the 7 days) and keep the Mor Chana and Samui Health Pass apps active for their entire stay.

        A second RT-PCR test is required on the 6th or 7th day and can be taken at Central Festival in Samui or Koh Phangan Hospital and Koh Tao Hospital. If those test results come back negative, travellers can continue their travels throughout Thailand.

        Anyone travelling less than 7 nights must depart from the Koh Samui Airport only; travellers are not allowed to travel to other airports to depart Thailand before the 7 days. Like other programmes, only fully vaccinated international travellers qualify for the Samui Plus scheme.


        • #5
          Koh Samui | New Entry Restrictions from October 15. 2021

          It’s going to be a little bit easier for domestic travellers to enter Koh Samui… at least for those with the vaccine. Starting October 15.2021 , those who are fully vaccinated and arriving to the island off the Surat Thani coast domestically will not need to undergo a Covid-19 test.

          Koh Samui Governor announced the easing of the domestic entry requirements. The island, which has had a slow reopening to international travellers under a programme similar to Phuket’s “Sandbox,” is heavily reliant on tourism. Easing the restrictions for domestic travellers is intended to attract more visitors to the island.

          The new requirements will be that any visitor arriving who has not had two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will have to present a negative result from a Covid-19 antigen test that was taken within seven days of their arrival. Fully vaccinated visitors will not need to show any test results.

          All visitors regardless of vaccination status will have to register online to get the Samui health pass, and will need to download the Mor Chana app in order to use hotels and other tourism services on the island. Koh Samui Governor Witchawut Jinto announced that the relaxed entry requirements goes along with the “Rao Tiew Duay Kan” (We Travel Together) scheme. This is a programme for domestic tourists that is intended to stimulate the tourism industry on Samui by allowing visitors to pay only 60% on room rates, while the government covers the other 40%.

          The program includes any accommodations priced at 3,000 THB per night and under. It was originally available to be used for five consecutive nights, but now the programme has been extended to 10 nights. Visitors also receive an e-voucher that can be used as cash around the island. A 900 THB voucher can be redeemed Monday-Thursday, and 600 THB voucher can be used over the weekend, Friday to Sunday.

          According to Witchawut, the island has had 1,125 foreign visitors arrive since the launch of the Samui Plus Sandbox programme on October 9th. These tourists include 181 French nationals, 181 Germans, 128 British, 82 Americans and 59 Dutch. All together, the visitors have accounted for a total of 13,059 nights rented in hotels.

          Additionally, a total of 1,293 foreign tourists came to Samui after completing the Phuket Sandbox programme.