Phuket to host Cabinet meeting to review proposals for reviving local economy

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Government officials are to hold a Cabinet meeting in Phuket on November 2 and 3, when they will meet with local authorities and business owners to hear their suggestions on re-igniting the province’s decimated economy. Phuket has been hit particularly hard by the country’s borders being shut since late March, with the absence of international tourists dealing a hammer blow that some say will be felt for years to come.

The Bangkok Post reports that, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the province would generate over 400 billion baht in tourism revenue each year. Now, data from the Phuket Area Revenue Office shows that, between January and August, year on year tax revenue from the province has plummeted by over 46%.

In preparation for the November meeting with central government officials, Governor Narong Woonsiew has met with local business leaders. Narong says Phuket is currently completely reliant on domestic tourism, with the local economy devastated by the fallout from Covid-19 and the loss of internationals tourists. He says the government understands the difficulties being faced by the province and has chosen to have a Cabinet meeting there for that reason. He adds that he would like Bangkok officials to ask state agencies to hold meetings and conferences in Phuket, as one way of helping the local economy.

“Phuket is grateful that it is the Cabinet’s venue of choice. This gives us hope for economic recovery. We have experienced many economic hardships before, and we are discussing what to propose as immediate and long-term solutions to the Cabinet.”

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Phuket is still hoping to welcome its first international tourists in over 6 months, under the new Special Tourist Visa scheme. The programme was officially launched on October 1, however, nobody seems sure when the first lot of foreign visitors availing of the visa are set to arrive. The much-talked about arrival of between 120 and 150 Chinese visitors, which was supposed to take place this month, turned out to be all for nothing, when it was revealed not a single Chinese national applied for the STV.

Nevertheless, Governor Narong says he expects the province to re-open for international tourism from October 25. That’s just over a week away. He adds that he would like PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to test Phuket’s readiness for managing STV arrivals, by undergoing all the procedures the province has put in place. He says the role-play could be filmed and used to increase tourists’ confidence that Phuket is well-equipped to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19 on the island.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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