PHUKET: Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat arrived in Phuket on Wednesday with New Zealand Ambassador to Thailand Brook Barrington and an entourage of foreign media in a bid to restore tourist confidence in Phuket after a People’s Alliance for Demorcacy (PAD) protest forced the closure of Phuket International Airport (PIA).
Mr Weerasak’s visit followed his call on Tuesday for Samak Sundaravej to rescind the state of emergency declared in Bangkok.
“I have set up many teams of Tourism Authority of Thailand [TAT] officers to help support TAT offices abroad, where we need to make it clear what the current situation in Thailand really is. We need to boost tourist confidence so they will return. This is especially true for Phuket,” Mr Weerasak said.
“I don’t want to have to explain to those countries why we still have a state of emergency declared,” he added.
Mr Weerasak advised senior government officers, including Governor Niran Kalayanamit and PIA Director Wicha Nernlop, to put recent events behind them and to focus on the future.
“I don’t want everyone to keep worrying about this. I need you to cheer up quickly and learn from this experience so you will be better prepared in the future,” he said.
“Here in Thailand we know that the state of emergency applies only to Bangkok, but other countries don’t know that. They think it applies throughout the country and they don’t know that Phuket is a long way from Bangkok.”
“In reality, Thai people have not been affected by the state of emergency and even people in Bangkok aren’t worried about it. However, it has directly affected confidence of investors and tourists. That is the problem now,” he explained.
“We need to remove the state of emergency as soon as possible and let foreign media come and report first-hand the real situation in Thailand, especially Phuket and Krabi, that we are back to normal already,” Mr Weerasak added.
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