The “Charming Chiang Mai” program created to reopen the province to international visitors in September will be delayed until October or later, announced the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) through Deputy Governor Thanet Phetsuwan.
The scheme is intended to welcome back international travelers to the areas of Mueang, Mae Rim, Mae Tang and Doi Tao Districts.
TAT officials will meet Chiang Mai provincial governor, Charoenrit Sanguansat, on Tuesday to ask him to complete the rest of the plan at a later date.
Two major issues stand between the government’s intentions to reopen and the desires of international tourists to come back to these Thailands’ astonishing beaches.
First of all, vaccination rates. The government has faced sharp criticism for its slow progress in vaccinating high-risk groups in the aged care and hospitality sector. Thai authorities have claimed Chiang Mai needs to reach a vaccination rate of between 70% to 80% before reopening.
Second of all, the “Charming Chiang Mai” scheme is not fully ready. The above-mentioned tourist locations were supposed to reopen in July, then August, then September and yet, the program still needs 20% to reach completion.
The Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration will send a deadline for Chiang Mai provincial governor Charoenrit Sanguansat to complete the rest of the reopening preparations over the weeks to come and a recommendation to reopen later this year.
For now, Thailand will continue slightly reopened.
“Phuket Sandbox” was the first pilot program allowing overseas tourists to visit the island. Starting July 1, those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 can travel to Phuket without having to quarantine.
Between July 1 and August 15 Phuket received 292 international commercial flights carrying 21,545 tourists, according to Minister of Transport Saksayam Chidchob.
The Minister also reported that 74% of the visitors were transported by Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, El Al Israel Airlines, and Thai Airways.
Later in July, the quarantine-free program was extended to also cover Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai, Railay, Khao Lak, Koh Yao Yai, and Koh Yao Noi in Phangnga.
However, according to Bloomberg even this reopening may be in danger due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.The government has set a threshold of 90 weekly cases, and the island is reporting more than 100.