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Phuket’s tourism representatives petition PM over ban on local vaccine purchase

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Dive Magazine

Representatives from various tourism associations on the southern island of Phuket have reacted with dismay to a government ban on local administrations and the private sector purchasing Covid-19 vaccines. In January, the Public Health Minister stated that the government was not opposed to local authorities purchasing their own vaccine supplies, provided the jabs had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, Anutin Charnvirakul now appears to have done a U-turn, declaring that such purchases are not authorised. His statement comes amid growing criticism of the pace of the government’s own vaccine rollout.

The announcement has frustrated several tourism groups in Phuket, who had been hoping to fund the vaccination of 70% of the island’s population with a view to achieving herd immunity and being able to re-open to international tourism from October 1. They have voiced their dismay in a letter to the PM, in which they petition for the ban to be reversed.

“The Phuket economy is heavily dependent on tourism, accounting for 94% of provincial income. Almost 8 months without inbound and domestic flights last year made all stakeholders suffer from a lack of cash, mounting debts, and increasing lawsuits regarding financial disputes.”

The letter goes on to point out that the resurgence of Covid-19 late last year has all but destroyed what was left of the tourism sector on the island. The Bangkok Post reports that a survey carried out by the Prince of Songkla University reveals that per capita income in Phuket plummeted between February and September, 2020. And while the national poverty threshold was at 3,044 baht a month for that period, in Phuket, the average monthly income was just 1,984 baht.

14 associations, including the Federation of Thai Industries in Phuket and the Phuket Chamber of Commerce have signed the letter. Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi from the Thai Hotels Association says while hotel revenue improved slightly this month, the sector continues to struggle. Over 100 hotel workers lost their jobs this week as hotels could not afford to retain them. She points out that while provinces within driving distance of Bangkok may see an uptick in tourism during the Chinese New Year holiday, places like Phuket and Chiang Mai continue to suffer due to infrequent flights.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar

    David cohen

    Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 11:46 am

    That will begin to reduce the prices of quarantine hotels

  2. Avatar

    Issan John

    Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    After a seriously world beating year controlling the spread of the virus, which should have been the hard part, Thailand seems to have completely stuffed up buying the vaccines, which should have been the easy part – even the UK’s clowns managed it.

    I’m not so sure, though, that Anutin has “done a U-turn”.

    On 13 Jan he was reported as saying that state agencies (provincial authorities) could use state funds to buy vaccines – in parallel with the country-wide roll out that seems a win-win.

    What the tourist groups are asking for, though, is very different – that individuals (“employees”) are allowed to buy vaccines from hospitals themselves, and hospitals allowed to sell them.

    That’s simply queue jumping.

    Those with the money would get vaccinated first, whilst those without (including the most likely to catch and transmit the virus, such as migrant workers) would be vaccinated last, with front line hospital staff pushed down the queue.

    Queue jumping based solely on those with the money taking priority can’t be right.

  3. Avatar


    Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    Why would you ban Phuket from buying approved doses if they can? A big if for sure, but it’s not like they wouldn’t be used on Thai citizens anyway.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 12:37 pm

      Because “Phuket” isn’t buying them.

      The reported plan (reported here!) from the various tourist organisations was for “employees” to buy vaccinations themselves – that’s simply allowing anyone with the money to jump the queue to buy from a limited supply, pushing everyone else further down the queue.

      How can that be either fair or in the country’s best interests?

      • Avatar


        Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 12:50 pm

        I’m not in favor of line jumping that’s for sure. If the business buy the doses and give them to the citizens to that’s one thing. If they make the employees buy them it’s another. That said the key to the plan was to vaccinate 70% of the entire Phuket population. Without that it doesn’t work. So how does that work if it’s only the employees buying the doses? Also they can’t buy the doses already under contract with Thailand, so it doesn’t hurt the country. Right?

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 1:11 pm

          Agreed absolutely, 100%, Ed V.

          The “plan” once you look into it and scratch the surface just doesn’t add up.

          It’s not the provincial authorities buying the vaccine, or even the tourist organisations, but the tourist organisations telling the employees to buy them.

          … and they can’t buy from private hospitals as private hospitals can’t jump the queue, so the only vaccines available are from the government’s supply – if any.

          It doesn’t make the vaccine rollout any better (or any worse), but it can’t achieve anything apart from making it LOOK as if the tourist organisations are doing something when there’s simply nothing they can do – it’s all down to the vaccine rollout, whenever that is.

      • Avatar


        Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 8:30 pm

        Issan John now has an imaginary little friend called Edwardv, how pathetic, by the way isaan John you are so full of it, of course it’s businesses buying the vaccines for their employees and you know it, stop playing these silly word games, again you are defending the indefensible ie this regime.

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 11:26 pm

          Oh dear. 😮

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 12:51 pm

      As you may have missed it in another article here, Ed V, from Khun Bhumikitti:

      “The Phuket private sector has agreed that employees, especially in the tourism sector, will pay for vaccines themselves.”

      • Avatar


        Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 1:21 pm

        Yeah I had missed that, thanks. While I don’t think it’s kosher, employers often impose requirements and obligations as a condition of employment. Many times that requires a cost. I was forced to join the union way back when and the fee was exorbitant. I also had to purchase certain gear all at my expense. If a hotel says we will supply the vaccine but you need to reimburse for the cost to work there, while not nice I also don’t think it’s over the line. Still what about everyone else? 70% of Phuket can’t all work for large enough businesses that could force all their employees to vaccinate? What about those who choose to not agree, or can’t afford it? For the plan to work the majority of the vaccine has to be free at the very least. Oh well it was a goofy idea from the get go anyway.

    • Avatar


      Friday, February 12, 2021 at 4:47 am

      Perhaps the gov knows how potentially lethal the vaccines presently out there are and is concerned about that hence the plan to produce local vaccines.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Friday, February 12, 2021 at 9:50 am

        So perhaps we’re lucky we’ve got such a clever government unlike so many others who aren’t as concerned, then Manu? 😮 😮 😮

  4. Avatar

    Issan John

    Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    And while the Thaiger is correct that the “Bangkok Post reports that a survey carried out by the Prince of Songkla University reveals that per capita income in Phuket plummeted between February and September, 2020. And while the national poverty threshold was at 3,044 baht a month for that period, in Phuket, the average monthly income was just 1,984 baht” I simply don’t believe it.

    There’s no trace of any such survey reported anywhere, nothing to support it from the ONS, and it’s just not credible that for the past year “the average monthly income was just 1,984 baht” in Phuket.

    That’s an “average” income of only 65 baht per day for a year, so some would have had to have more (considerably more, even if you only look at the public sector) and some less.

    It’s simply not possible.

    • Avatar

      London Al

      Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 8:23 pm

      Crazy how people living in a country with so few cases and deaths are suffering so badly, I’m actually surprised it’s as much as 1,984 baht, in Phuket no tourists equals no revenue equals no jobs, I’m not sure if there are government handouts but I doubt they’re enough to pay the rent, it’s down to helping each other which the Thais are very good at but even that can only last so long.

  5. Avatar

    Mister Stretch

    Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    If the locally produced vaccine was available, I am sure the government would let local municipalities and private concerns buy ALL they wanted.

    It’s about in whose pocket the money ultimately winds up.

  6. Avatar


    Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 10:05 pm

    @Issan JohnSame nonsense and spreading fake news like in all comments!Issan John has no glue about the economic situation in Phuket that the whole supply chain like farmers etc etc also cannot sell their products to the hotels, restaurants etc.

  7. Avatar

    Issan John

    Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 11:30 pm

    Aaah …. I’ve finally understood why you keep saying “no glue” 😮

    You just can’t make this stuff up 🙂

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