Samui, Phangan and Tao Islands Seek August 1 Partial Reopening

Tourism authorities announced Friday that they plan to allow fully vaccinated foreigners to travel to Koh Samui and two neighboring islands after a week-long stay in Phuket, starting August 1.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn unveiled the proposal to gradually open Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao to tour operators in Surat Thani in April.

The minister will send the proposal to the cabinet and the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), seeking approval to include the three islands as destinations where visitors authorized to arrive in Phuket can complete their stay-on-island requirement as of next month.

Phuket has prepared to open to foreign travelers from June 1.

However, all travelers must stay on the island for 14 days before visiting any other place in Thailand. One version of Phuket’s Sandbox called for a mandatory stay of just seven days before authorizing travel to the rest of the country, but the requirements were tightened due to the severity of the third wave of COVID-19.

Mr. Phiphat has proposed authorities allow visitors to stay in Phuket for a week and then fly to the islands in Surat Thani to complete the requirement.

But Sakdaporn Rattanasupha, deputy governor of Surat Thani, said they still need negotiations with Bangkok Airways to organize flights to take tourists from Phuket to Samui. The move comes as Koh Samui’s tourism businesses push for the island and its neighbors to start receiving tourists just like Phuket, as other Thai destinations are not scheduled to reopen until October 1