Phangnga operators seek direct travel

Tourism operators in Phangnga are calling for a plan to let tourists travel directly to the province to avoid complicated procedures, while it banks on the resumption of flights from Russia to generate 20,000 room nights in the fourth quarter.

Pongsakorn Ketprapakorn, president of the Tourism Council of Phangnga, said one of the key concerns is the complicated certificate of entry application for the 7+7 island-hopping scheme which requires tourists to spend the first seven days in Phuket.

Operators also received feedback from the Germany-based TUI Group that tourists might consider other destinations due to the difficulty of the entry process, while Scandinavian tourists would like to directly visit Phangnga.

“We need an entry relaxation to let travellers proceed to Phangnga after landing at Phuket airport via sealed vehicles which is expected to draw more tourists,” he said.

After the endorsement of the Sputnik V vaccine, Russian tour operators, including Anex Tour and Pegas Touristik, showed interest in bringing tourists to Khao Lak by October, given that international flights from Russia can resume.

Mr Pongsakorn, who is also executive director of Khao Lak Emerald Beach Resort and Spa, said the hotel already received inquiries from the Russian market for 2,500 room nights per month in the last quarter.

Approximately 20,000 room nights from around 2,800 Russian tourists with an average length of stay of seven days will be geared to Khao Lak tourism.

He said the tourism situation is quite stagnant despite reopening as an extended destination.

Some 70% of 92 hotels under the SHA Plus certificate are reopened with very few tourists.

As of Sept 20, forward bookings for SHA Plus hotels stood at 2,475 room nights, with 1,684 room nights located in Khao Lak, followed by Koh Yao Noi (326) and Koh Yao Yai (465).

“Tourism operators are working on promoting Khao Lak surf town to attract not only Russian tourists who usually visit surfing spots in Bali, New Zealand and Australia, but also other potential markets with surf cultures like France and Japan,” Mr Pongsakorn said.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said he discussed with the Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai last week cooperation on resuming flights between the two countries.

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