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What is the future of Phuket and Samui? VIDEO




Let’s review the last 2 days when the Thai PM and the cabinet cavalcade headed to the southern islands of Phuket and Samui. Did their visit come up with any solutions that could help the islands and their economic crisis? Please watch the video and subscribe to our YouTube Thaiger channel.

Thailand’s PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha has just spent the last 2 days visiting Phuket and Samui, along with members of his cabinet. The largely symbolic visit was at least a recognition that 2 of Thailand’s primary international tourism economic engines had been decimated by a lack of tourists. In both cases the islands’ tourist related businesses and hospitality industries have seen hundreds of thousands of job losses with entire streets of shops shuttered and abandoned.

After inspecting the worst hit communities on the islands the PM called for long-term plans to revitalise their economies. Prayut described the conditions in Phuket as “much more drastic as the province heavily relies on international travel”.

He acknowledged that Phuket generates the second-highest income from the tourism industry, just behind Bangkok.

“When I arrived in Koh Samui and Phuket and saw the conditions of both cities. So, we have to figure out how to make the situation in Phuket better and we will look forward to gathering information in order to find a proper solution for all parties.”

Phuket and national tourism officials have already scrambled to come up with wellness tourism projects, numerous ‘models’, provincial infrastructure projects and extensions of the subsidised domestic travel program “We Travel Together.”

Mathmatically, the much-hyped Special Tourist Visa will do almost nothing to help either Phuket or Samui.

With a projected limit of 1200 tourists per month for the whole country, and only a handful of quarantine-ready hotels on the islands, Phuket or Samui will hardly notice the difference. One of the primary ideas discussed yesterday was to turn at least Phuket into a medical, sports and health tourism hub.

Phuket already has quite a developed health and wellness infrastructure, albeit spread around the island and any promotions or new infrastructure will take months, even years, to develop. So there’s no short to medium respite there either. The cabinet also said they were interested in bringing business and sports conferences to the island with business people from low risk countries.

Again, nothing really new and certainly not going to put meals on the table for the hundreds of thousands that are currently out of work. They also acknowledged that, in the short term, mass tourism, like the islands and Southern provinces profited from before, was simply not an option due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic around the world.

But the Cabinet did approve, in principal, to grant tourism business operators soft loans under the 57 billion baht portfolio guarantee scheme. This soft loan scheme is provided to SMEs over an 8 year period.

Whilst the Cabinet Cavalcade of some 10 passenger vans barrelled around the two islands on Monday and Tuesday, it was also announced that Krabi’s tourist magnet Maya Bay may be re-opened to tourists. The beach, made popular in the 2000 movie, The Beach, was closed back in mid-2018 after suffering the affects of mass tourism.

And finally, if the PM thought he’d be able to escape the protesters whilst visiting the southern islands, local protesters in Phuket had other ideas. At a few staged ‘meet the people’ opportunities he confronted some small protest gatherings with a variety of signs being waved around….

“Phuket pays high tax but there is no development”, “stop encroaching on people”, “unblock Pornhub now”, “our freedom is raped”, “we hate police and soldiers” and “cancel the lese majeste law and I will tell you many things.”

Some of the messages were also projected onto the sides of buildings around the island. The upshot of the 2 days of inspections, meet and greets and talkfests, is plenty of ideas and plans. But none of these plans will help the operators in tourism and hospitality tomorrow, or even over the next fews months.

The next three months are traditionally the tourist high seasons… well that won’t be happening. Whilst the Thai government decides to limit the number of local arrivals and keep a tight leash on the borders, both islands will continue to suffer without any relief in sight. And even if they do allow more travellers to come to Thailand sometime soon, who is going to be coming, with much of the UK, Europe and the US heading into a savage winter, much of it featuring new lockdowns.

The heydays of big tourist numbers are long gone and the tourism and hospitality infrastructure established on both islands over the last two decades, is destined to gather more dust until the planes start arriving again.


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  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    The future of Phuket and Samui?
    Is to work on fishing, farming. No more smart phones, not even motor bikes – but bicycles.
    No more motor car taxis – rickshaws.
    Poverty, drugs, crime, drunkenness. Lots of crying into their Leo saying: Why? Why? Why?
    Or to be more accurate: Thami? Thami? Thami!


    • Avatar

      John Smith

      Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      Your right toby, however wish you wouldn’t laugh about it. Im sure you agree many that are lovely folk and don’t deserve to be laughed at. However if it’s the government you’re laughing about well that’s a different storey.

  2. Avatar


    Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    Muaythai visa to train n the native martial art. You will get good tourists and support the gyms that feed a lot off kids.

  3. Avatar

    Patrick J Kelly

    Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    With the attitude of the government, will be a ghost town for years. Sad to see a great tourism location being decimated.

  4. Avatar


    Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    The plain and simple truth is Phuket and Kho Samui under the current situation have no future. There is nothing they can do to replace the tourist revenue within at least the next six and more likely next twelve months. The few plans they do have are all long term and iffy at best. You just don’t retool an economy quickly or easily. Both have the added disadvantage of location working against them. There is a reason they so easily developed a tourist based economy, because it’s the best model for their situation. Anything different works against that fact. All they can do now is wait till Thailand eventually reopens, next year, the year after, or whenever. Sucks.

  5. Avatar


    Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 8:01 am

    It won’t improve things in the short term but the medical and wellness business is a good idea,as people age all over the world they will be needing care. The cost of this care in the west is outrageously expensive and so if Thailand(Phuket) offers something better then it will definitely work. Easier visas must be made available though.

    • Avatar


      Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 8:27 pm

      Depends where in the west you live.

      In some (don’t know how many) European countries (EU) the medical treatment (regular doctor and hospital) is paid over taxes. Dentist you usually have to pay yourself.

      So for many European they would have to pay for this service in Thailand by themselves. I guess most isn’t stupid enough to pay both tax in your own country and the go to Thailand and pay for treatment they get for free.

  6. Avatar


    Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 9:54 am

    having put all my funds into a small resort and being named a dirty farang I am looking for partnership into the only good potential biz on sight. A nice shop selling fashionable and branded hanging ropes with back services like the last drink bar and a selection of urns for the incineration, a photo service to send souvenirs to the government with thanks..
    Anyone interested ?
    The biggest joke is when you go for a soft loan at a bank, they answer, its not possible for any hospitality biz since they dont believe they can get their money back even in 8 years… unless you deposit the money you are looking for, as collateral. May be some ministers could resell their watches collection to help ???

  7. Avatar


    Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Travel Bubble with Australia! Here’s hoping!!!!

  8. Avatar


    Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 9:27 pm

    Health services are the key to developing tourism in Phuket again. All tourists need to be tested for the coronavirus on arrival and again after 3 and 14 days. They also need to be given a double-dose of a vaccine over the prescribed time period. Until vaccines are proven to be effective, the health measures will need to be over-the-top for maybe for 1 to 2 years. Of course, all visitors and workers will need to be traceable as well. Logistically it’s all possible and, while I hate to say it, the Chinese probably know how to organise something like this better than most countries right now. As a people, they have the community spirit, and tenacity to solve and manage problems like this, whereas many other ethnic groups, including Europeans, are just not that disciplined. Many people will be happy to travel to Thailand again and destinations like Phuket again, but they need to feel safe while the pandemic remains so virulent. So, the Thai government needs to recruit a top health and tourism task force of professionals in their specific fields. This is not a job for officials or local business owners.

    • Avatar

      Don R

      Saturday, November 14, 2020 at 5:03 pm

      Might as well just mothball the whole peninsula then. Few tourists will accept the restrictions you list. They’ll simply go somewhere else. Right now I hear they’re going to Cancun.

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