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PM Prayut eyes 1 million “high-quality tourists” in his Phuket transformation

Neill Fronde



PHOTO: PM Prayut has big plans for Phuket. (via the dk photography unsplash)

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has announced intentions to attract 1 million foreign travellers and 60 billion baht in revenue over the next 6 months by promoting Phuket as a world-class destination (again).

The Thai prime minister took to Facebook to introduce his “Phuket Transformation” plan to attract what Thailand views as high-quality foreigners on a “workation” – the most recent buzzword for working remotely, which is still currently not technically legal in Thailand.

The PM’s magic million travellers are based on speculation from the TAT and CESA this week that a million ttavellers would visit Phuket during the final quarter this year and the first quarter of 2022.

In the past 3 months, since the start of the Phuket Sandbox on July 1, only 37,000 travellers have taken up the Sandbox program. About half of these were actually ‘tourists’, the rest were returning Thais and foreigners returning to Thailand for business or family and using the Sandbox as their ‘quarantine’.

The program intends to attract 5,000 of these working travellers each day during the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. The push comes as a wave of Covid-19 restriction easing went into effect at the beginning of the month, shortening quarantine to 7 days, lightening curfews, reopening restaurants and entertainment like cinemas, and even allowing liquor in Phuket restaurants.

To help add to the influx of international travellers the government is hoping to attract, officials estimate that, from October to March, 500,000 tourists will enter Thailand on chartered flights from England, Russia, Germany and Scandinavia.

Development is underway to ease the process of travelling to Thailand by creating online registration systems add verify vaccine certification as well as health pre-screening to streamline and speed up the travel paperwork and process.

According to PM Prayut, the Phuket Sandbox has generated 2.25 billion baht in revenue and the Phuket Extension program earned another 12 million baht. The Samui Plus program was also said to have contributed 66 million baht to the Thai economy. The prime minister called the reopening programs a success as it hasn’t brought in more Covid-19 and has started to grow the tourism economy again.

Debt relief and loan programmes along with compensation payments are on their way, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises to help them stay afloat and keep their staff employed. The government is also focused on getting more businesses and sectors reopened.

PM Prayut also touted the success of the vaccination rollout now, with 178.2 million vaccines having been procured by the end of 2021 and domestically produced Thai vaccines in advanced testing phases and likely to roll out next year too.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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