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Survey: 90+% feel bar ban, restrictions hamper Phuket Sandbox

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: OVer 90% of those surveyed think that bar closures and sandbox restrictions will drive away tourism. (via Wikimedia)

In an “is water wet?”-style survey conducted by Thai Examiner, about 92% of foreigners polled disagree with the bar and entertainment venue closures during the Phuket Sandbox reopening. This, coupled with the bumbling, haphazard implementation of the reopening is driving foreigners away from coming to Phuket according to the site’s informal survey of 240 people.

The Mayor of Patong confirmed last week that bars and clubs would not reopen on July 1 when Sandbox tourists are allowed to arrive. He said that the Tourist Authority of Thailand and the Governor of Phuket made the call. 70% of those polled in the survey believed that reopening bars when tourists return to Phuket would not pose a significant public health risk.

About 96% of survey respondents believe that entertainment venues being closed and alcohol sales prohibited will severely limit the attraction of international tourists to Phuket. Thai Examiner quoted several readers saying they have cancelled their travel plans because of this and will go to more friendly destinations.

Aside from the lack of booze and partying, another major factor cited in the Phuket reopening survey is the lack of confidence in the reopening that has been chaotic and ever-changing. The TAT head was in Phuket over the weekend meeting with tourism operators and reassuring that plans were going ahead, despite confusing reports of the Minister of Tourism and Sports possibly commenting that Phuket wasn’t ready.

The plan to reopen has lacked clarity with local officials flip-flopping and unsure about everything from reopening rules to vaccines for expats. Plans are constantly changing with frequent governmental 180s dampening faith in the process and readiness to reopen Phuket.

In the push to officially confirm the July 1 reopening, a number of expanded rules and restrictions were shoehorned into the plan, causing outrage and cancellations for many would-be international travellers. Expanding the arrival waiting period to 14 days in an SHA Plus certified Phuket hotel with 3 Covid-19 tests and no guarantee of who bears that cost infuriated people excited to return. The Thai Examiner survey as well as comments on stories here at The Thaiger show many people cancelling their travel plans to Phuket after these new rules.

With all that, the plans are not even official and finalized yet, still needing approval from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and then the Cabinet needing to approve it before being published by the end of the month in the Royal Gazette when it will finally be official. Another hurdle was passed with the National Communicable Diseases Committee approving the plan Monday, and PM Prayut Chan-o-cha announced last night he will fast track the Cabinet approval, original scheduled for review next week.

The Thai Examiner survey showed that there’s still a significant desire to come to Phuket and enjoy the scene and scenery like the good old days gone by. But with no alcohol or entertainment venues and a laundry list of restrictions, rules and procedures, enthusiasm for coming anytime soon has waned.

For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, CLICK HERE.

SOURCE: Thai Examiner

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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