Chiang Mai may have to postpone the start of its tourism reopening programme from next month to October due to vaccination concerns.
Thanet Phetsuwan, deputy governor for marketing communication under the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the province’s “Charming Chiang Mai” tourism reopening programme may need to be postponed from Sept 1 to Oct 1 because Covid-19 vaccination has not yet covered 70% of its population.
The reopening plan is 80% ready to welcome foreign visitors.
On Tuesday, TAT officials will meet provincial governor Charoenrit Sanguansat to ask him to complete the rest of the plan at a later date to be proposed by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, Mr Thanet said.
He added Chiang Mai’s tourism reopening programme will not be the same as Phuket’s and Koh Samui’s plans, which have allowed visitors to freely arrange their routes.
Chiang Mai has planned to reopen tourism through the use of tour companies with nine types of travel packages for four days and three nights to ensure routes are under control, he said.
The tour companies, who will be responsible for visitors’ visit, would only allow tourists to visit Mueang, Mae Taeng, Mae Rim and Doi Tao districts, he said.
Chiang Mai is located on the mainland, unlike Phuket and Koh Samui, which also have smaller land masses to help control visitors, he said.
The province targets tourists from the China’s Qingdao, Chongqing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Xishuangbanna and Hainan; Japan’s Hokkaido and Kyoto; and South Korea’s Seongnam and Kangwonk, he said.
Turkish, American, Canadian and Indonesian visitors also intend to come, he said.
Mr Thanet said China’s government has not yet reopened its country to allow Chinese citizens to travel abroad, so the TAT may need to liaise with the Chinese embassy in Bangkok.
He said Chiang Mai anticipates to recover a vast amount of Japanese and Korean golfers who used to come and play in the province.
Moreover, the province can be popular again among Chinese visitors who flooded the province before the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
He hoped China will lift its travel ban early next year.
Meanwhile, the province projects that a single international flight would bring 90 visitors and generate 3.3 million baht of income per day, Mr Thanet said, noting four flights would bring 13 million baht.
The province can recover 51 million baht in one month from 1,440 tourists, he said. If there are two flights a day, 2,880 will visit per month, bringing 105 million baht of income, he said.
In 2019, 10.82 million people reportedly visited Chiang Mai, 31.18% of whom were foreigners.