Bars across Thailand can reopen today, but small pubs and big clubs in Koh Samui say they’re not ready to unlock their doors.
Koh Samui’s tourism industry was struggling even before the coronavirus pandemic closed businesses and halted air travel to the island. Longtime business owners said each year brought fewer and fewer tourists, due mostly to extortionist-level fares charged by Bangkok Airways – which holds a monopoly on airline service to the island – and the infamous reputation of Samui’s price-gouging taxi drivers.
But with Thailand’s borders remaining essentially closed, the island’s bar owners said they’re in no hurry to reopen.
Alongkorn Poolsawat, the owner of Hush Bar on Soi Green Mango in Chaweng Beach, had his staff deep-cleaning the premises Tuesday, sterilizing fixtures and equipment and throwing away anything that can’t be easily clean. He said he has to replace discarded items with disposable versions.
Whether the work is completed by Wednesday or not, however, Alongkorn said he didn’t plan to open today.
“Koh Samui is a tourist city. Everything depends on them,” he said. “Therefore, if the country is not open to foreign tourists we have to hope the government brings Thai tourists to the island.”
He said small bars like his and bigger bars and clubs all face the same obstacles, but owners of some larger places will feel they have to open to stem losses from rent and taxes.
Alongkorn said he will reopen, if only to help his employees who have been dependent on small government stipends. But he hopes the government can stimulate domestic tourism to Samui.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Koh Samui office is doing just that.
A July-October campaign will offer discounts up to 70 percent on airfares, accommodations, spas and tour boats.
The campaign, cosponsored by the Tourism Association of Ko Samui, Thai Hotel Association Southern Chapter-East Coast, and Samui Spa Association – will be promoted at a July 3-5 sales event at Central World in Bangkok.
Bangkok Airways is offering a Samui Super Sales deal for 2,300 baht –one-way, excluding airport tax. For Thais travelling Sunday through Thursday, the airline will give another 500 baht off its 7,900-baht package which includes roundtrip airfare and two-nights’ accommodation.