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Phuket tourism operators call for curbs to be eased despite surge in infections

Maya Taylor

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A Phuket beach in pre-pandemic times. PHOTO: Flickr/jeiline

Tourism operators on the southern island of Phuket say Covid-19 restrictions must be eased to help the sector recover, even with a surge in infections. The island has been recording around 200 daily new cases in recent days. However, Thanet Tantipiriyakit from the Phuket Tourism Council points out that the infections are mostly caused by local activities as opposed to be being brought in by tourists. According to a Bangkok Post report, he says fully vaccinated visitors with negative PCR tests should be allow to enter the province from elsewhere in the country, in order to help the economy.

Meanwhile, Chernporn Kanchanasaya from the Federation of Thai Industries says it’s vital to continue the vaccination of as many Phuket residents as possible, while Sarayuth Mallam from the PTC warns that the introduction of a 2-month lockdown on the island could mean the end of the sandbox scheme.

“Foreign consuls have said foreign visitors already feel deceived having arrived in Phuket. If the province is locked down again, no visitors will come at all. Tourists from Bangkok and Europe will disappear during the high season. We need to strike a balance to co-exist with Covid.”

According to Sarayuth, tourists arriving from Europe want to be able to enjoy alcohol when dining out and at the moment, they feel they can’t do anything. He adds that many say they feel cheated.

“If Phuket was not ready, then why re-open? Without an easing of the curbs, all will be ruined.”

Meanwhile, provincial governor Narong Woonciew says there has been an increase in transmission among residents and migrant workers, with infections detected via antigen test kits and later confirmed through PCR tests. He admits the outlook for the island’s sandbox scheme doesn’t look as good as it did when it launched and says authorities are ramping up efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

“We have to do everything we can to get through this difficult situation and hope case numbers will slow down. We have to join forces and move forward. This is a life-and-death situation for the future of Phuket Sandbox.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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