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Not so fast! Phuket’s plans to reopen slow down

Caitlin Ashworth



Not so fast! Phuket’s plans to reopen slow down | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Samui Times
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“We have to rely on domestic tourism demand for now because we can’t reopen our borders yet. Some people in the area still haven’t accepted the idea… It doesn’t mean that we’re pulling the plug on the plan though.”

Phuket is not going to be back up and running as soon as expected. Plans to let international tourists back in the island province are on pause following the recent local Covid-19 transmission in Bangkok. Deputy PM and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says the government is ready to open Phuket, but they’re concerned the move could lead to new infections.

“It’s been nine months now. We have to learn to fight and live with the pandemic. We can’t be afraid of it.”

Thailand went 100 days without a reported local transmission of the coronavirus. Last week, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19 during a routine test at a local prison after he was arrested on drug charges. Now health officials are scrambling to trace the DJ’s tracks. Health officials do not know how the man came in contact with the virus.

Phuket is trying to balance public health and the local economy, keeping the public free from the virus while also trying to keep the economy from collapsing. Domestic tourism just doesn’t cut it for Phuket. Before the pandemic, international tourists contributed to 2/3 of Phuket’s revenue from tourism. If international tourists aren’t let back in this year, 50,000 jobs could be lost, according to the Phuket Hotels Association.

“No amount of induced local demand can prevent the dramatic continued loss of jobs and rapidly eroding financial crisis for owners and operators… We strongly advocate a safe, pragmatic, and strategic reopening for foreign travelers.”

The consulting firm C9 Hotelwork found that almost 70% of hotel development projects have been put on hold, according to the firm’s managing director Bill Barnett.

“Thailand’s failure to relaunch overseas tourism creates a dangerously perilous scenario for Phuket’s hospitality industry … The situation is bad, and likely to get worse, as operating hotels incur losses day in and day out.”

With the new local Covid-19 case, Phuket’s reopening plan is facing more criticism. There’s been a resurgence of cases in areas that opened back up to tourists, like the Caribbean island of Aruba. Many Phuket residents and business owners agree that tourists will need to do a 14-day quarantine. The government plans to discuss the so-called “travel bubble” next month. In prior discussions, the plan would allow people from countries classified as “low risk” to visit Thailand, but only select locations.

For now, Thailand will need to rely on domestic tourism, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says.

“We have to rely on domestic tourism demand for now because we can’t reopen our borders yet. Some people in the area still haven’t accepted the idea… It doesn’t mean that we’re pulling the plug on the plan though.”

SOURCES: Bloomberg | Bangkok Post

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  1. Avatar

    The Yacht skipper

    September 9, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Maldives is thankful! All tourist that would come to Thailand tropical islands are now going to Maldives… the local people from there is happy because they are making some money again. If Thailand Doesn’t start to open again (in a safe way) the economic loss will be huge.

      • Avatar

        Rinky Stingpiece

        September 9, 2020 at 8:02 pm

        Vietnam then… or just the beach places nearer to home, like Spain and the Med for Europeans, or Caribbean for North Americans. Even if there’s a spike, you can get home without too much expense and complication compared to somewhere as far away as Thailand. Some countries like Oz and Nz and Japan don’t need to come to Thailand for a decent beach and food. They have their own domestic markets too, and their own restrictions on returning… companies won’t always pay wages for people returning to quarantine, it’s a non-starter.

      • Avatar

        Yacht Skipper

        September 10, 2020 at 9:44 am

        They should ask for the test… but I think Maldives did well to open the country! We need to learn how to live with the virus. We cannot stop the economy because of this… Less than 5% of people that got infected by covid 19 died. People are not making money, people are stressful and they are developing serious psychological illnesses.

    • Avatar


      September 9, 2020 at 6:58 pm

      Even Maldives cannot lure the tourist. Why Thailand is so confident, more close to arrogant.

      • Avatar

        Benny Larsson

        September 12, 2020 at 8:23 pm

        I agree 100%. They will suffer even more later. Cheers!

  2. Avatar

    Jason reid

    September 9, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    You cant bury your head in the sand and build a 10 foot wall each time there’s a Covid case. Thailand has the healthcare systems in place. Stop playing politics and open the borders to tourists from low risk countries who arrive with a clear test. I mean after 14 days quarantine it would be pretty obvious the tourist doesn’t have corona. If anything it could be the poor tourist who puts himself at risk as he immerses himself into the Phuket community post 14 days. A second or third wave is inevitable in any country, what is key is how its quickly its identified and dealt with efficiently. That’s the true mark of a prepared country. Not hiding away like the virus doesn’t exist.

  3. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    September 9, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Postponed because the truck load of hoops for foreigners to jump though has not arrived.
    They want money up front.

    • Avatar

      Rinky Stingpiece

      September 10, 2020 at 12:15 am

      Postponed because most of the countries they want to attract tourists from have all kinds of rules that make leaving them a non-starter… not just 14 days quarantine + expensive insurance + expensive hotel, but 14 days unpaid quarantine when you return, if you can even get back!

    • Avatar


      September 10, 2020 at 5:32 am

      And will never arrive with a 14 days quarantine !

  4. Avatar


    September 9, 2020 at 8:31 pm

    Will never loose 14 days locked up in a room .
    Thailand should forget me , on the way to Maldives now, without quarantine on arrival , or other stupid rules !

  5. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    September 10, 2020 at 1:47 am

    All of these comments look very familiar! Very familiar!

  6. Avatar


    September 13, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    turkey opened the borders on june
    in3 months case number never changed. I thought thai people were smart but it seems not anymore.

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

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.


Covid-19 shuts down 70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses

Caitlin Ashworth



Covid-19 shuts down 70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses | The Thaiger

Most tourism businesses in Phuket have closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and they probably won’t be up and running again until foreign tourists are let back in Thailand. Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew says around 70% of tourism businesses have closed, most of them just temporarily, but some have shut down permanently.

Before the pandemic, tourism to Phuket brought in 450 billion baht a year with 400 billion baht from foreign visitors while the other 50 billion baht was from domestic tourists. Thailand has been trying to increase domestic tourism to help revive the industry after the pandemic. Phuket’s governor says it helps, but not enough.

“Their visits can help solve some of our economic problems, but they cannot replace the need of foreign tourists.”

66.8% of tourism businesses in Phuket have closed temporarily while 2.8% have closed permanently, according to data by the Digital Economy Promotion Agency. The governor is trying figure out how to recover the economy, fast.

“By the end of September, the number of businesses to be closed will increase up to 70% for sure.”

While many businesses are closed, the governor says Phuket is “almost 100% ready to welcome foreign tourists.” The governor says he can’t give an answer to when foreign tourists will arrive in Phuket, but he claims they’ve “prepared every step,” from checking in at the airport to hotel quarantine. They’re just going to install some new temperature check machines at the Phuket International Airport and review the procedures for welcoming the tourists.

“We have to work and prepare carefully to welcome foreign tourists… We have to gradually open our door to welcome small groups of people first, in order to test our system, and then open for bigger groups.”

At the moment, only 3 venues in Phuket have been approved to operate as alternative state quarantine facilities. Anantara Phuket Suites & Villas has 100 rooms available, Anantara Mai Khao Phuket has 36 villas and Trisara resort has 15 villas.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

Maya Taylor



Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s land rights. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has been condemned online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews, after he criticised anti-government protest leader, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Nimit Thian-udom says that, while the SSO’s investment does not break any laws, the board must explain the reasons behind the investment decision and clarify the return on that investment. In addition, he says the SSO should attach more importance to good governance when choosing where to invest.

The call for clarity is echoed by opposition MP Chirayu Huangsap, from the Pheu Thai Party, who calls on the Labour Minister to explain the investment. He adds that any discrepancies will be reported to both the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.

The land rights of the luxury Sri Panwa Phuket resort, which sits on prime land atop Phuket’s Cape Panwa, overlooking the south-eastern tip of the island, are also being called into question. Veera Somkwamkid, from the People’s Network Against Corruption, says he is looking into the property’s land rights and will pass his findings to the Department of Special Investigations.

For his part, the Labour Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built, saying it’s up to the DSI to investigate and that a complaint does not need to be filed in order for them to do so.

Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as anti-government netizens exact their revenge on the proprietor by posting negative feedback on the property.

“Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities

Caitlin Ashworth



Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities | The Thaiger

3 cities in Thailand recently joined UNESCO’s membership of so called “learning cities” which are said to promote “lifelong learning” and sustainable development. Chachoengsao, Chiang Mai and Phuket joined the UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities. Altogether, 55 cities from 27 countries, adding up to 230 cities in 64 countries around the world, according to UNESCO.

“These cities are outstanding examples of how lifelong learning can become a reality at local level. They have proven that effective lifelong learning policies and practices can support the development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and contribute to the 2030 Agenda.”

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning David Atchoarena says the recent new members have shown that they can make “lifelong learning a reality,” even after enduring the pandemic.

“With unprecedented urgency, the Covid-19-19 pandemic has underlined the necessity to build more resilient education systems for the future. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities must be at the centre of this undertaking.”

David says he hopes it will inspire other cities in Thailand to follow.

“I very much hope that we will see many other cities from Thailand joining the network and working on providing lifelong learning opportunities for all to ensure a sustainable and peaceful future.”

The mayor of Chachoengsao, Kolayuth Chaisang, says his goal is to provide “effective education, thoroughly and equally to all citizens.” According to the Bangkok Post, the city is a key urban centre both economically and culturally.

The mayor of Chiang Mai, Tussanai Buranupakorn, says he wants to revitalise the city, while also maintaining the cultural significance. The city has a number of educational institutes, which goes along with UNESCO’s learning city principles.

Phuket is a hub of sustainable creativity, according to the Bangkok Post. The mayor of Phuket, Somjai Suwansupana, says he wants to preserve the city’s “identity, local wisdom assets and the charm of our multiculturalism.”


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