Asia Minute: New Tourism Rules for Thailand’s Koh Samui

Jul 6, 2020

In less than four weeks, Hawaii will be open to travelers who can prove they’ve recently tested negative for the coronavirus. Other tourist spots around the world are considering the timing and other logistics of re-opening. And that includes a beach destination in Thailand that’s popular with international tourists.

Koh Samui is a tropical island off the coast of Thailand. A modest tourist trade grew there in the 1970’s and 80’s – exploding with the construction of an international airport in 1989. By 2017, annual arrivals topped 2.5 million.

Eventually, direct flights came to the island from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and China.

But in recent years, the enthusiasm of developers has overtaken that of tourists. An oversupply of hotel rooms led to an occupancy rate of about half for 2019.

And then came the pandemic — entirely shutting down tourism for months.

Domestic travelers started trickling back a few weeks ago, and now government officials are working on plans to open to the international travelers who make up about 90% of the local hotel business, according to tourism officials.

No visitors will be allowed until at least September, and then only from low-risk countries.

They’ll need to take a coronavirus test on arrival or face a 14-day quarantine.

And the Bangkok Post reports there’s a new rule on capacity. On an island with some 20,000 hotel rooms, the number of arrivals will be capped at 200 a day.