The failed Samui Plus program drew only 786 fully vaccinated foreign tourists between July 15 and Sept. 20, the Tourism Authority of Thailand said.
TAT said the program, which allowed foreigners to quarantine on the island for two weeks, attracted 9,823 room-night bookings and generated 58.9 million baht in revenue.
Most of these arrivals were from European countries with the top three source markets being France with 136 arrivals, Germany with 119 arrivals, and the UK with 105 arrivals. Other markets included the Netherlands, the USA, Switzerland, Ialy, Poland, Hong Kong, and Japan.
During the period, Bangkok Airways’ 132 “sealed route” flights between Samui and Bangkok helped facilitate transit/transfer passengers under the Samui Plus program connecting through the Thai capital.
In addition, since the launch of the Phuket Sandbox 7+7 Extension program on Aug. 16, international travelers have been able to continue their trip to Samui after first staying seven nights in Phuket.
Through Sept. 20, 232 visitors have extended their trip via Bangkok Airways’ 16 “sealed route” flights between Samui and Phuket, which resulted in 1,245 additional room nights and 7.5 million baht in revenue.
Moreover, during through Sept. 20, Samui also welcomed 575 international travelers who completed a 14-night mandatory stay in Phuket under the “sandbox” program.
While TAT touted the numbers, trying to frame it as a success, it was anything but. Even Surat Thani’s governor said the requirement that tourists undergo a short quarantine and be restricted to only “sealed routes” of travel limited its appeal.
Samui Plus now has been changed to “Samui Sandbox” with no quarantine and sealed routes. The governor advised other cities planning to reopen not to repeat Samui’s mistakes, as quarantine and movement restrictions only only put off potential visitors.