PhuketTourismTransportVisa

Phuket gets ready for foreign yachts, high-spending tourists hoped to revive economy

PHOTO: Unsplash: Marcin Ciszewski

With hopes that high spending tourists will help revive the crippled economy, Phuket is jumping on the new scheme allowing those travelling on super-yachts and cruise ships to dock in Thailand and enter on the Special Tourist Visa.

Phuket officials have come up with guidelines for the province’s reopening to foreign tourists and will submit it to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. If approved, foreign yachts and cruise ships each carrying hundreds of tourists and crew members will be allowed to dock in Phuket.

Foreign tourists and crew members travelling by yacht or cruise ship will need to go through a 14-day quarantine aboard the vessel. Under Phuket’s proposed guidelines, luxury vessels will dock in Ao Por and will be able to anchor around Koh Nakha Noi which is about 6.2 kilometres away from the mainland.

Phuket’s deputy governor Pichet Panapong says the provincial committee on disease control has drafted a step by step approach on how to use the luxury vessels as “alternative yacht quarantine,” or AYQ, facilities.

During the aboard quarantine, temperature checks are required to be done twice each day and RT-PCR Covid-19 tests must be done at least 3 times including upon arrival, between the second and fifth day of quarantine and between the twelfth and fourteenth day.

Small boats will be used to go to and from the yachts to deliver supplies and collect samples. The personnel on the small boats must wear proper protective gear and make sure the boat is cleaned and disinfected after each journey.

Since the cabinet’s guidelines on docking foreign luxury vessels was approved, 27 super yachts and 33 cruise ships, each carrying 600 to 700 people, have shown interest in docking.

Phuket has been struggling since the coronavirus lockdown as its economy heavily relied on foreign tourists for income. Pichet says domestic tourism is not enough. He says the island province needs tourists who are going to spend a significant amount of money and the group of tourists travelling on yachts and cruise ships are expected to generate around 2.1 billion baht.

“We have six to seven requirements for foreign visitors and we only let a small number of them in at a time. So we need those who are significant contributors to revive the local economy. If the spending remains low it will hardly make a difference.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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21 Comments

21 Comments

    1. What is the interest of Phuket if you are stuck onboard ???
      The island will be deserted anyway. We have a wealth of destinations
      to choose from with our boats. Thailand does not enter into consideration anymore.
      In addition what kind of money can you spend if you stay onboard ???
      The most stupid government on earth !

    2. Think the massive negative publicity with people imprisoned on cruise ships at the start of the crisis has probably caused iraepairable damage to the industry.
      The mrs and i were planning a once in a lifetime trip on a cruise ship just prior to the crisis.
      You could not get either of us onboard one now even if you paid us.
      Suspect we are not alone.

  1. Another moronic idea from this stupid government !
    Who wants to be stuck 14 days at Ao Por in deserted Phuket ?
    As far as the “superyachts carrying 600-700 each 600-700 people” (sic)
    they may not stay afloat very long. Just a bunch of jokers !!!!
    But we have a good time reading your news !!!LOL

  2. Like it or not, the mass, “bread and butter”, middle range tourist group is the only one that will restore the tourism economy.
    Fanciful talk about super rich, super yachts etc., will not benefit the general population.
    Nothing will happen until quick result, reliable testing is available with a working vaccine.

  3. What is the interest to be sitting in front of Phuket for two weeks in a cruise ship? To visit an island where all restaurants/bars are closed afterwards? Another stupid idea… except few returnees owning a yacht… (very few people on board usually), nobody will come…

  4. Revive economy? 555 are people really that stupid to think:

    1) ‘Shown interest’ means will actually arrive once full terms and conditions are known? Ie show 500k bank statements (how do you even get that on a boat?) and 14 day quarantine

    2) That a few hundred or even a few thousand people over months will help anything, let alone revive the islands economy. Let us know when talking about a few thousand per day otherwise just wasting everyone’s day in an attempt to make an entirely inept and uncaring government look like its being proactive and actually helping

  5. Whether they’re stuck on board for 14 days after docking, which seems unlikely, or time at sea is included, which seems equally unlikely, I just can’t see that this gives any sort of answer.

    14 days stuck on board while docked at Ao Por wouldn’t be acceptable for any cruise, although that seems to be what’s planned, and cruises are unlikely to spend 14 days at sea so that would only reduce the time stuck at Ao Por, not get rid of it.

    As far as I’m aware, most cruises have also gone into temporary hibernation due to an inevitable lack of passengers – most cruise passengers are retirees, so particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, and the last place any of them would want to be is on a cruise liner where they’re more likely to get infected than just about anywhere else on the planet.

    … and what superyachts or cruise ships carry 600 – 700 people? That’s far too many for even the biggest superyacht, and far too small for any cruise ship!

    … as for the maths (it was actually 2.1 billion baht expected, Murika, not 21 billion so “only” 60,000 baht each), what are they going to spend their money on? The crew certainly won’t spend anything, so that would mean up to 100,000 baht per passenger … and on a cruise they’ve already paid for their accommodation, meals and entertainment so that’s an awful lot to spend on souvenirs.

    This proposal just looks like a desperate attempt by the Phuket administration to be seen to be doing something, when there’s simply nothing that can be done until, as Geoff said, there’s a better test and a working vaccine and the reality is that neither seems likely for up to a year.

    Far better, in my view, to follow Vietnam’s example and admit that there’s no short term solution so at least everyone knows where they stand rather than holding out hope where there is none.

    1. Having some posh yachts is better than nothing at all… even these will provide some work and income for some people, and let them trial some marine COVID-handling procedures.
      Now that the green shoots of vaccines are beginning pop up, some tourism-related businesses will be trying to cling on until this time next year. The lack of movement in diversifying the local economy away from total tourism saturation is the bigger problem though. All that clinging on risks ramping up debts, which will undermine the viability of businesses in the longer term.

    2. You are not directly dependent on tourists to earn a living. Vietnam is also not as dependent as its economy is bigger, stronger and more diverse. I suppose if you’re selfish and living in your “Issan” bubble and are also enjoying not having as many tourists around…

      1. As already pointed out by Thaiger (thank you), Vietnam’s economy is far from “bigger, stronger and more diverse”.

        Tourism is 8% of the country’s GDP (not far short of Thailand’s 11 – 12%), and it’s economy has taken a much bigger hit than Thailand’s as it’s exports are far less “diverse”. Garment exports make up half of it’s exports and the garment industry, exporting primarily to the US and EU, has collapsed.

        … and actually we’ve got just as many tourists around … as usual, though, they’re all Thais.

        1. There was an article in the Nov. 5th BP title”Opening up is the only way to rescue Thai tourism”. In the article they quote from a company that the official and unofficial tourism number is 22% of GDP. Of course the unofficial number must be estimated but most articles and studies I’ve see even here always stay the unofficial portion is bigger than people think. Interesting they also claim foreign tourism makes up 65-70% of that total. About 14-15% of total GDP would be foreign tourism, if correct that’s a huge number. Just putting it out there. Salt, needs salt.

  6. Cruise ships??? Are there many of these self-contained infection hubs running at the moment?

    Think I remember reading last week about a Carribean cruise ship resuming activities only to end up with cases spreading onboard for this first cruise…

    Sounds like a plan – Let’s start by inviting the Diamond Princess over!

  7. Another meaningless PR proposal. Phuket is dead for the foreseeable future and there is nothing that can be done to change that. Cruises won’t dock for 15 day’s that’s a non-starter. Super yachts don’t carry enough people to justify the cost of reopening a souvenir shop let alone a restaurant or bar. You need tens of thousands of tourists showing up weekly at the minimum to get people to invest in reopening. Until then just live with the quarantine because it doesn’t make economic sense otherwise.

  8. Forger about curse ships and Chinese wealthy turests they don’t spend money Chinese only go to Chinese hotels eat in Chinese restaurants travell on Chinese charter buses and take selfies on there I phones ask any Thai bar or restaurant owner and they all shake there heads and say no never come here and if they do always mooning about something.There best customer its the guy that has 2 to 3 weeks holiday money to spend looking for a good time looking for the ladies and the beer .So it’s the old saying you have the money we have the honey and they will rince him and every one is happy look forward to his return.and the madam at the bar will say hurry back they all love you very much

  9. The Maldives is 6.5 days away at 10 knots.
    No restrictions, apart from a health certificate – not Maldives.
    The Maldivians all have fancy motor bikes, some have 4 wheel drives, drink 10 year old whisky, and top of the range smart phones, because they ARE smart, unlike the Thais.
    Thais are only fit for fishing and farming.

    1. So they “all have fancy motor bikes”?

      Strange, since in the Maldives 55% of the population in the capital have an income of less than US$390 per month, as do 90% of the population outside the capital.

      Meanwhile in Thailand the average income in Bangkok is US$695, while outside the capital it’s US$510.

      Maybe none of the Thais you met when here, before they threw you out, had “4 wheel drives, drink 10 year old whisky, and top of the range smart phones”, but plenty do.

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Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

21 Comments

    1. What is the interest of Phuket if you are stuck onboard ???
      The island will be deserted anyway. We have a wealth of destinations
      to choose from with our boats. Thailand does not enter into consideration anymore.
      In addition what kind of money can you spend if you stay onboard ???
      The most stupid government on earth !

    2. Think the massive negative publicity with people imprisoned on cruise ships at the start of the crisis has probably caused iraepairable damage to the industry.
      The mrs and i were planning a once in a lifetime trip on a cruise ship just prior to the crisis.
      You could not get either of us onboard one now even if you paid us.
      Suspect we are not alone.

  1. Another moronic idea from this stupid government !
    Who wants to be stuck 14 days at Ao Por in deserted Phuket ?
    As far as the “superyachts carrying 600-700 each 600-700 people” (sic)
    they may not stay afloat very long. Just a bunch of jokers !!!!
    But we have a good time reading your news !!!LOL

  2. Like it or not, the mass, “bread and butter”, middle range tourist group is the only one that will restore the tourism economy.
    Fanciful talk about super rich, super yachts etc., will not benefit the general population.
    Nothing will happen until quick result, reliable testing is available with a working vaccine.

  3. What is the interest to be sitting in front of Phuket for two weeks in a cruise ship? To visit an island where all restaurants/bars are closed afterwards? Another stupid idea… except few returnees owning a yacht… (very few people on board usually), nobody will come…

  4. Revive economy? 555 are people really that stupid to think:

    1) ‘Shown interest’ means will actually arrive once full terms and conditions are known? Ie show 500k bank statements (how do you even get that on a boat?) and 14 day quarantine

    2) That a few hundred or even a few thousand people over months will help anything, let alone revive the islands economy. Let us know when talking about a few thousand per day otherwise just wasting everyone’s day in an attempt to make an entirely inept and uncaring government look like its being proactive and actually helping

  5. Whether they’re stuck on board for 14 days after docking, which seems unlikely, or time at sea is included, which seems equally unlikely, I just can’t see that this gives any sort of answer.

    14 days stuck on board while docked at Ao Por wouldn’t be acceptable for any cruise, although that seems to be what’s planned, and cruises are unlikely to spend 14 days at sea so that would only reduce the time stuck at Ao Por, not get rid of it.

    As far as I’m aware, most cruises have also gone into temporary hibernation due to an inevitable lack of passengers – most cruise passengers are retirees, so particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, and the last place any of them would want to be is on a cruise liner where they’re more likely to get infected than just about anywhere else on the planet.

    … and what superyachts or cruise ships carry 600 – 700 people? That’s far too many for even the biggest superyacht, and far too small for any cruise ship!

    … as for the maths (it was actually 2.1 billion baht expected, Murika, not 21 billion so “only” 60,000 baht each), what are they going to spend their money on? The crew certainly won’t spend anything, so that would mean up to 100,000 baht per passenger … and on a cruise they’ve already paid for their accommodation, meals and entertainment so that’s an awful lot to spend on souvenirs.

    This proposal just looks like a desperate attempt by the Phuket administration to be seen to be doing something, when there’s simply nothing that can be done until, as Geoff said, there’s a better test and a working vaccine and the reality is that neither seems likely for up to a year.

    Far better, in my view, to follow Vietnam’s example and admit that there’s no short term solution so at least everyone knows where they stand rather than holding out hope where there is none.

    1. Having some posh yachts is better than nothing at all… even these will provide some work and income for some people, and let them trial some marine COVID-handling procedures.
      Now that the green shoots of vaccines are beginning pop up, some tourism-related businesses will be trying to cling on until this time next year. The lack of movement in diversifying the local economy away from total tourism saturation is the bigger problem though. All that clinging on risks ramping up debts, which will undermine the viability of businesses in the longer term.

    2. You are not directly dependent on tourists to earn a living. Vietnam is also not as dependent as its economy is bigger, stronger and more diverse. I suppose if you’re selfish and living in your “Issan” bubble and are also enjoying not having as many tourists around…

      1. As already pointed out by Thaiger (thank you), Vietnam’s economy is far from “bigger, stronger and more diverse”.

        Tourism is 8% of the country’s GDP (not far short of Thailand’s 11 – 12%), and it’s economy has taken a much bigger hit than Thailand’s as it’s exports are far less “diverse”. Garment exports make up half of it’s exports and the garment industry, exporting primarily to the US and EU, has collapsed.

        … and actually we’ve got just as many tourists around … as usual, though, they’re all Thais.

        1. There was an article in the Nov. 5th BP title”Opening up is the only way to rescue Thai tourism”. In the article they quote from a company that the official and unofficial tourism number is 22% of GDP. Of course the unofficial number must be estimated but most articles and studies I’ve see even here always stay the unofficial portion is bigger than people think. Interesting they also claim foreign tourism makes up 65-70% of that total. About 14-15% of total GDP would be foreign tourism, if correct that’s a huge number. Just putting it out there. Salt, needs salt.

  6. Cruise ships??? Are there many of these self-contained infection hubs running at the moment?

    Think I remember reading last week about a Carribean cruise ship resuming activities only to end up with cases spreading onboard for this first cruise…

    Sounds like a plan – Let’s start by inviting the Diamond Princess over!

  7. Another meaningless PR proposal. Phuket is dead for the foreseeable future and there is nothing that can be done to change that. Cruises won’t dock for 15 day’s that’s a non-starter. Super yachts don’t carry enough people to justify the cost of reopening a souvenir shop let alone a restaurant or bar. You need tens of thousands of tourists showing up weekly at the minimum to get people to invest in reopening. Until then just live with the quarantine because it doesn’t make economic sense otherwise.

  8. Forger about curse ships and Chinese wealthy turests they don’t spend money Chinese only go to Chinese hotels eat in Chinese restaurants travell on Chinese charter buses and take selfies on there I phones ask any Thai bar or restaurant owner and they all shake there heads and say no never come here and if they do always mooning about something.There best customer its the guy that has 2 to 3 weeks holiday money to spend looking for a good time looking for the ladies and the beer .So it’s the old saying you have the money we have the honey and they will rince him and every one is happy look forward to his return.and the madam at the bar will say hurry back they all love you very much

  9. The Maldives is 6.5 days away at 10 knots.
    No restrictions, apart from a health certificate – not Maldives.
    The Maldivians all have fancy motor bikes, some have 4 wheel drives, drink 10 year old whisky, and top of the range smart phones, because they ARE smart, unlike the Thais.
    Thais are only fit for fishing and farming.

    1. So they “all have fancy motor bikes”?

      Strange, since in the Maldives 55% of the population in the capital have an income of less than US$390 per month, as do 90% of the population outside the capital.

      Meanwhile in Thailand the average income in Bangkok is US$695, while outside the capital it’s US$510.

      Maybe none of the Thais you met when here, before they threw you out, had “4 wheel drives, drink 10 year old whisky, and top of the range smart phones”, but plenty do.

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