SAMUI, 16 July 2021: The Tourism Authority of Thailand rolled out the Samui Plus programme on Thursday evening, opening the door for fully vaccinated international visitors to explore the three islands of Samui, Pha-ngan, and Tao.
The welcome carpet rolls out for both vaccinated international travellers and domestic tourists with no quarantine requirements, but some of the rules are stricter than the Phuket Sandbox that opened on 1 July.
Two Bangkok Airways flights landed on Thursday bringing in nine foreign and 60 local media from Bangkok. There are no direct international flights to Samui although Bangkok Airways has requested permission from Singapore to reinstate direct services as soon as possible. There is even speculation that Singapore Airlines may start its own direct service to Samui as early as this October.
The Samui Plus programme is for travel between July and December 2021 and gives travellers the option to visit three islands located in Surat Thani province. Initially, travellers must stay in the hotel for the first three days (not confined to the room) then they can explore Samui from day four to seven. After the first week, they have the option to visit the other two islands on day trips during the remaining seven days using authorised travel services. Based on negative RT-PCR test results during their 14-night stay, they are then free to travel elsewhere in Thailand.
General information on the Samui Plus programme and FAQs can be found at https://www.tatnews.org/2021/07/samui-plus-faqs/
At the official launch Minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said: “The reopening of Samui, Pha-ngan, and Tao to tourism is another significant step toward achieving the Prime Minister’s recently announced policy of reopening the whole country within 120 days, or by the end of October.
“Phuket is already open as the pilot destination, and other destinations will follow in the scheduled order with carefully planned disease control and public health measures, travel procedures, and the right tourism marketing all being addressed.”
While the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus are geared to international tourists, the minister hinted that domestic tourists, in the long run, may have to comply with stricter rules and rapid-test requirements similar to the measures for international visitors.
The next destinations due to reopen 1 September 2021 include Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai, and Railay Beach), Phang Nga (Khao Lak and Ko Yao), Chiang Mai (Mueang District and Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, and Doi Tao Districts), Chon Buri (Pattaya, Bang Lamung, and Sattahip), and Buri Ram (Mueang District and Chang Arena).
The scheduled date for the reopening of Bangkok, Phetchaburi (Cha-am) and Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin) is 1 October 2021, with the rest of Thailand due to reopen throughout the month of October.