Phuket officials outline plans for economic recovery

PHOTO: Bao Menglong on Unsplash

As Thailand’s tourist hot spots struggle under the devastating economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, officials in Phuket are attempting to kick-start tourism in the province. Focusing initially on domestic tourism, deputy governor Pichet Panapong hopes a number of planned events will draw visitors to the southern province.

The Phuket Seafood and Gastronomy Festival, which started at the weekend and runs until September 13, is talking place at various spots around the island, featuring local suppliers, hotels, and restaurants. It’s hoped the event will attract thousands of domestic tourists to the island over the course of the foodie festival. Details of the locations taking part can be found HERE.

Officials are also calling on the island’s transport providers to offer incentives such as discounts to visiting tourists, with Pichet pointing out that officials will monitor pricing to ensure it is fair. Historically, Phuket’s transport system has been a strong disincentive for people to travel around the island. Tuk Tuk and taxi cabals, particularly focussed around Patong and airport transport, have left the island with an appalling reputation for rip offs and price-gouging.

On the question of international arrivals and the much talked about “travel bubblescheme, the deputy governor says talks are still continuing with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. He says if such a scheme were to be introduced, strict criteria would apply, including Covid-19 testing of passengers in their home country, along with written authorisation to enter the Kingdom, issued by a Thai Embassy. Mandatory health insurance with coverage of US$100,000 or over 3 million baht, is also a requirement. And then a quarantine period when they arrive.

In addition to foreign tourists, Pichet says hundreds of foreign students are anxious to come to Phuket for study purposes. However, he says it’s vital that local people are comfortable with any travel bubble arrangements put in place, adding that officials must outline how they would handle any possible resurgence in local transmission of the Covid-19 virus.

The pandemic has focussed a spotlight on Phuket’s almost total reliance on tourism, with its economy decimated by a ban on international commercial flights, highlighting the need to diversify. Officials are now eyeing plans to make the province a centre of industry for those involved in agriculture, gastronomy and seafood. Pichet says that while tourists will continue to be an important revenue stream, it’s hoped Phuket can attract more medical and wellness tourists, with talk of a 3 billion baht medical hub for the province (again, reliant on international tourists).

“Phuket’s location can be used as a selling point of a medical plaza project which will feature a long-term care centre for foreign patients with serious illnesses and nursing homes. Foreign patients can come here for treatments and travel at the same time.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Phuket News

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