With the July 1 deadline for reopening to internationals travellers approaching and Covid-19 spreading rapidly, Phuket industry leaders are begging the Thai government to allow private importing of vaccines. Phuket’s sandbox plan required a 70% vaccinated resident policy, which looks unattainable, in order to allow tourism without quarantine again. With the pandemic spread across all 77 provinces now, vaccines that had been earmarked for Phuket may be rerouted to more urgent situations.
The Phuket Tourist Association understands this need but believes pushing to restart tourism to save the economy is vital also. So in response, private sector businesses are asking for approval to import vaccines on their own. Pledging to use their own budget and local administrative organisations, they await approval to proceed in vaccinating and reopening.
Tour operators, especially German and Scandinavian companies, want to resume operations in Thailand and start landing international flights in Phuket again, according to the Thailand Hotels Association Southern chapter. They insist it’s imperative to hold true to its announcement and show the world that Thailand is reliable for tourism again.
The Phuket Tourism Council, Phuket Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Phuket Industries, have all banded together with private companies and local government to support privatized vaccines. The Phuket Tourism Council said businesses had asked permission since January without approval, but many regions had already set aside funds to purchase vaccines, and even made contact with some foreign vaccine makers.
PM Prayut Chan-o-cha vowed yesterday to open the gates to the private sector helping the government to purchase, import, and distribute vaccines to the people of Thailand, and businesses in Phuket are pleading to allow them to vaccinate on their own so the 200,000 vaccines already administered aren’t in vain. With Sinovac and AstraZeneca currently available for import, and Johnson & Johnson recently gaining approval, plus Siam Bioscience producing the AstraZeneca vaccine here in Thailand, many criticize the government’s slow progress in vaccinating the population. Calls are growing to allow private importing, and Phuket businesses are ready to take up the charge.
SOURCE: Phuket News
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