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Phuket plays host in B100bn medical tourism drive

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket plays host in B100bn medical tourism drive | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha this afternoon met representatives from 19 major news agencies from around the world as part of the Thai government’s drive to boost medical tourism revenues to 100 billion baht (US$3.3bn) by year 2015.

Among the representatives visiting the governor were journalists, photo-journalists and cameramen from Fox News and Xinhua as well as state-news agencies VNA from Vietnam and Bernama from Malaysia. Others hailed from as far as Norway.

The media troupe arrived in Phuket today from Bangkok for a two-day familiarization tour of the medical services and wellness treatments available on the island.

Governor Tri took the opportunity to introduce the group to what he called “vacation plus”.

“People can come to Phuket for much more than a holiday. They can undergo medical treatments or enjoy our spas. There’s so much more here that they can do than just go to the beach,” he said.

The media tour is just one of many the national government is hosting. Last month a similar media tour went to Chiang Mai. Another one next month is scheduled to visit Chanthaburi and in June another media tour group will visit the three border provinces in the South.

Phuket features prominently in the government’s national plan to develop the country’s competitiveness in the medical tourism world market.

According to a press release from the Thai government Public Relations Department (PRD), medical tourism generated 52 billion baht in revenue for the country in 2008, 58 billion baht in 2009 and 65 billion baht last year.

Thailand receives about 1.5 million medical tourists a year, but that number is rising, said the release.

Japan, the US and countries in South Asia were identified as main source markets, supplemented by arrivals from China, Taiwan, the UK, Germany and the Middle East.

Among the information given was the fact that Phuket has seven hospitals (a number most likely including the yet-to-open PPAO Hospital in Rassada), with 1,051 beds and 21 public health clinics in addition to many private clinics and drugstores.

Leading the group tour in Phuket is Chamnong Pakaworawuth, Director of the PRD’s Media and Information Management Division.

“Media tours such as this are good in that they let foreign media see for themselves how developed Phuket is and to learn what is available on the island.

“Spreading this information in their home countries can lead to more foreign investment and more tourists visiting Thailand,” she said.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket officials concerned about virus risk from undocumented migrant workers

Maya Taylor

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Phuket officials concerned about virus risk from undocumented migrant workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

The discovery that 3 Thai nationals infected with Covid-19 returned from Myanmar and bypassed health checks and quarantine, has officials in Phuket on high alert. Over the weekend, it was discovered that a 29 year old Thai woman had illegally crossed from Myanmar and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19 after admitting herself to a Chiang Mai hospital. 2 other women who worked with her have also tested positive for the virus.

Phuket’s deputy governor, Pichet Panapong, says news of the 3 infected Thai women who managed to enter Thailand without undergoing any health checks or mandatory quarantine, has officials on the southern island worried. He adds that local authorities are monitoring Burmese workers, calling on them to follow disease control measures if returning to Phuket from Myanmar. (It would appear he missed the bit about the 3 infected women being Thai, not Burmese)

In a report in the Bangkok Post, Pichet says officials are considering setting up a quarantine facility for any migrant workers already in Phuket illegally, adding that of the 59,900 registered migrant workers on the island, 80% are Burmese. The Thailand/Myanmar border is longer than 2,000 kilometres with hundreds of official and “natural” border crossings.

“People can also act as eyes and ears for the authorities. If they find something suspicious in their communities, they should alert immigration police or local police.”

Phuket has 21 alternative quarantine properties, offering over 2,500 rooms in total, but arrival numbers are low. It’s understood that only 11 people have applied to enter Phuket in the period December 4 – 12, and so far, only a single application has been received for January. There are currently 726 people in local quarantine, 20 in alternative local quarantine, and 4 people carrying out yacht quarantine. Since Phuket agreed to receive foreign-registered yachts, 6 vessels have entered its waters, with all passengers and crew carrying out quarantine on board, 6 kilometres from shore.

Pichet says that, at a meeting of the communicable disease control committee, the Thai Yachting Business Association submitted a proposal to manage cruise ships, and officials have also received a request to extend the opening hours of shopping malls over the New Year holiday.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent

Bill Barnett

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Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent | The Thaiger

Bill Barnett from c9hotelworks.com continues to follow the difficult journey of the Thai hospitality industry. Traditionally, now would be the start of the country’s highly profitable high season for the tourism industry. But not this year. Thai hotels find themselves in the middle of an existential crisis – either still closed, only partly open, or one of the few converted to limited ASQ traffic. The situation is dire, when you consider that between 15-20% of Thailand’s GDP is linked to tourism.

In a speech this week Thailand’s Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke clearly that only when a vaccine is approved, produced, and implemented, would the country open to substantial tourism. Given the current timelines and forecasts, this may not be likely until mid-2021 at the earliest, though subject to advancement if the process could be accelerated, which is unlikely.

For tourism and hotel stakeholders, the writing is on the wall that 2021, for the most part, will see a continued reliance on domestic travellers, and only in 2022 will there be a large-scale return in numbers of overseas visitors.

Given the winter spike in Asia, Europe, and North America of Covid-19, Thailand is not alone in relying on the vaccine to return tourism but the process will not be instant and the re-openings of borders will most certainly be staged.

HERE’s a list of 113 Alternative State Quarantine hotels.

The business reality for Phuket and across Thailand is to plan for the worst in the coming six months and only expect 2022 to see a notable uptick.

Currently, the hotel sector continues to advocate to the Thai government and Central Bank for debt and financing relief measures and assistance in a social security supplement to retain staff.

While it’s negative news, it at least allows for hotels to understand the challenges ahead, plan and adjust their operating models going forward. ‘Survive the downturn’ is the new mantra.

No vaccine, no entry. Read more HERE.

No vaccine, no flight. Read more HERE.

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