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Phuket calls for immediate government help over coronavirus impact

Jack Burton



PHOTO: Phuket Chamber of Commerce President Thanusak Phungdet details the problems Phuket faces as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak - Phuket Chamber of Commerce

Phuket’s Chamber of Commerce has asked the Thai govenment for swift action to help cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus, particularly on tourism. According to Chamber president Thanusak Phungdet:

“I explained to Tourism Committee President Surasak Phanchalernworakul about the situation and how coronavirus is affecting tourism and business in Phuket. I requested them to share this information with the PM and other relevant officers in Parliament. The situation is much worse than the government knows.”

Thanusak told reporters that he met yesterday with Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee on Tourism and Phuket MP Nattee Thinsakhu; Thai Hotels Association Vice President Kongsak Khoopongsakorn; Phuket Tourism Council President Sarayut Mallam, and other Phuket tourism industry representatives to try to find a solution to crisis.

“The Phuket private sector has been massively impacted by COVID-19. I’m not sure if the Government is aware of the situation as they have not yet visited to see the problems firsthand.”

“It has drastically affected tourism-related businesses. Many staff have been forced to take a pay cut, although the cost of living cost here remains the same. If this situation lasts six to 10 months, Phuket may well become an empty island.”

Thanusak lamented the absence of Chinese tourists, noting that some 20 hotels on the island have “temporarily” closed.

“Many boats and buses are not being used, [and are] parked and empty. Currently we have only 50% of the usual number of European tourists, and it will go down to around 30% next month, and possibly continue to decrease to zero. This situation is out of the hands of the private sector and local administrative officers.”

“We want government support for the tourism sector here, to help unemployed staff and to attract Thai people to come to Phuket in order to support local business and help everyone.”

Thanusak says he has requested help from the Minister of Tourism and wants swift action to safeguard Phuket’s standing as the second highest income-generating province in the country.

“It is worrying that the Government [does] not know the real impact of this bad situation. [The] Government have not yet come to Phuket. It may be because nobody has sent information about the coronavirus and its impact. Governors have to see the truth and listen to people’s complaints.”

As of today, Thailand’s toal confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus remain steady at 35, 17 of whom have made full recoveries and been discharged from hospital. Thailand has reported no fatalities from the virus, and no case has been reported in Phuket.

SOURCE: The Phuket News


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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