The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has developed a city marketing plan focused on the high level of safety in Phuket and other sandbox zone areas as part of its plans to regain tourists’ confidence despite the increase in COVID-19 cases.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn elaborated on the strategy yesterday.
“As the timeline for the country’s reopening via the so-called Phuket sandbox remains the same – July 1 – we have to make sure that the destination, which is currently building herd immunity, is safe for tourists,” he said.
On Wednesday, the TAT held a virtual meeting with around 60 hotel operators led by the Thai Hotels Association, local hoteliers, and global hotel companies.
The group included InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Accor, Centara Hotels and Resorts, Minor Hotels, Asset World Corp, Onyx Hospitality Group, and Dusit Thani. The meeting aimed to assure operators that the island will open as planned.
Besides, the agency encouraged hotel operators to participate in communicating with international guests to build trust.
“If we cannot give a clear message that the Phuket sandbox is separate from the rest of Thailand, they will not have the confidence to visit the country,” Mr. Yuthasak said. Hoteliers believe that tourists yearn to travel, as seen in Portugal and the Maldives when their borders were opened, he added.
Most hotel operators are confident in the last quarter if the Phuket sandbox performs well, benefiting other areas that join the sandbox from October.
However, the order to return to a 14-day quarantine after facing the new outbreak is still a concern. Mr. Yuthasak stated that TAT would periodically update the opening plan information on its website as part of the “Countdown to Reopen Phuket” campaign.
The information would include daily case reports, public health system capacity, vaccination program progress, and live travel experiences from the Andaman Islands.
Likewise, the ten sandbox areas should prepare for vaccination plans, focusing on the ability to administer vaccines, risk management, and maintenance of herd immunity. Mr. Yuthasak suggested hotel operators prepare standard operating procedures for vaccinated guests if a positive case is detected.
Destinations are also required to improve the supply side, seeking to meet recurring demand.
The agency has plans to create experimental tours in Phuket throughout July with the support of travel bloggers and opinion leaders and by bringing in film and TV crews and training camps for sports teams.