‘Hua Hin Recharge’ eyed for next tourism sandbox

An August, 2021, file photo of Thai tourists in Hua Hin. Photo: Coconuts Bangkok
An August, 2021, file photo of Thai tourists in Hua Hin. Photo: Coconuts Bangkok

Three months after Phuket’s limited reopening, another seaside town will join southern locales welcoming foreign tourists as soon as next month.

Dubbed “Hua Hin Recharge” and set to kick off Oct. 1, the plan will allow international travelers to visit the popular gulf destination in Prachuap Kiri Khan province without quarantine, according to tourism authority Gov. Yuthasak Supasorn.

Authorities there are seeking more vaccines to inoculate more than the 71% so far who have received at least one dose in the Hua Hin and Nong Kae subdistricts.

Roughly 100,000 tourists are forecast to visit by the end of the year, generating an anticipated THB1.2 billion (US$37 million), Yuthasak said. Phuket estimates it has raked in THB1.6 billion since July.

Yuthasak also said travelers would be able to fly directly from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Hua Hin. Regional airlines are said to be looking to add routes serving the city as well.

The conditions for the travelers from abroad are much the same as the so-called sandbox scheme. They’ll have to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and two more times after that on the seventh day and 13th days. They must stay at SHA+ certified hotels only.

Tourists who pass the first and second tests can travel freely within Hua Hin’s designated 86 square kilometers. If their third COVID-19 test comes back negative, they can travel freely throughout the country.

In the last full pre-pandemic year, 3.8 million travelers visited Hua Hin – 2.8 million Thai and 1 million foreign nationals. The top five sources of external tourism were Chinese, British, German, Swedish and Danish, according to 2019 statistics.

Apart from Hua Hin, officials had been floating a possible Oct. 1 opening of Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chonburi as well, but nothing has been made final.

While the most recent and severe outbreak has been declining since its mid-August peak, Thailand’s daily case load remains high, with 13,821 cases reported today, as well as 241 fatalities.


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