The “Charming Chiang Mai” program created for reopening 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 program aims to welcome international travelers to the Mueang, Mae Rim, Mae Tang and Doi Tao district areas.
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 main issues stand between the government’s intentions to reopen and the desires of international tourists to return to Thailand’s amazing beaches.
First, vaccination rates. The government has faced strong criticism for its slow progress in vaccinating high-risk groups in the hospitality and elderly care sector. Thai authorities say Chiang Mai needs to reach a vaccination rate of between 70% and 80% before reopening.
Second, the “Charming Chiang Mai” scheme is not quite ready. The aforementioned tourist sites were due to reopen in July, August, September, yet the program still needs 20% to complete.
The COVID-19 Situation Management Center will send a deadline for the Governor of Chiang Mai Province, Charoenrit Sanguansat, to complete the rest of the reopening preparations in the coming weeks and a recommendation to reopen later this year.
For now, Thailand will remain slightly reopened.
“Phuket Sandbox” was the first pilot program that allowed foreign tourists to visit the island. As of July 1, those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 can travel to Phuket without the need for quarantine.
Between July 1 and Aug 15, Phuket hosted 292 international commercial flights carrying 21,545 tourists, according to Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob.
The minister also informed that 74% of visitors were transported by Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, El Al Israel Airlines and Thai Airways.
Later in July, the non-quarantine 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 could be in jeopardy due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. The government has set a limit of 90 cases a week, and the island is communicating more than 100.