The Tourism Authority of Thailand is partnering with the Tourism and Sports Ministry to build confidence and boost domestic travel to Phuket as it reopens to international tourism next month. They hope to give Phuket a much-needed boom by attracting local travellers as well as fully vaccinated international passengers.
Aiming to get domestic travel up and running in August, the TAT is preparing a memorandum of understanding with the Thai Chamber of Commerce to promote and encourage Thai people to travel to Phuket. They hope to have the plan signed this month. They suggest members of the chamber take holidays in July to demonstrate that safe and enjoyable travel is possible, visibly reassuring Thais and vaccinated foreigners.
Around the world, TAT offices are beginning strong promotional pushes to drive tourists to Phuket again. 29 TAT offices worldwide are participating, and international airlines such as Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, British Airways and El Al Airlines have committed to direct service flights to Phuket. This week Qatar Airways, Emirates Airways and Etihad Airlines all announced flights from July 1, and KLM scheduled flights for after the rainy season commencing in October.
While international tourism has been nearly non-existent since Covid-19 began, domestic tourism in Phuket and all of Thailand has fallen as well, with 2021’s tourism goal set by the government now being lowered to 100 to 120 million trips total, with a target revenue of 550 billion baht. The Tourism and Sports Ministry stated that they will be monitoring progress in the mass vaccination drives this month and next to determine plans for tourism subsidies in August and beyond.
A fund to help the businesses most painfully impacted by the pandemic has been proposed, but nothing has been confirmed yet. The ministry is awaiting data on financial aid being gathered by the Association of Thai Travel Agents now before moving forward. Plans included earmarking funds from the government’s loan decree alloting 500 billion baht for Covid-19 relief. The ministry will coordinate with the Finance Ministry on this effort.
Aside from domestic tourism, yesterday the Center for Economic Situation Administration passed the Phuket Sandbox proposal, clearing the way for approval next by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and then the Cabinet, before finally being published in the Royal Gazette, which makes it an official guarantee. The proposal that passed included positives like provisions for unvaccinated children and plans for transfers in Bangkok to be allowed but also upped the period arriving travellers must stay in Phuket from 7 to 14 days, causing an uproar.
The Public Health Ministry is worried about future Covid-19 outbreaks, so they pushed for the 14-day restrictions, but, together with the CCSA, if July comes and goes without any wave of infections, they aim to reduce the travel restriction to 7 days.
The final step in the plan for any tourism, domestic or foreign, to really thrive in Phuket is reaching the threshold for herd immunity among residents. Phuket has been making progress but is still waiting for shipments of Covid-19 vaccines in order to get 70% of the island inoculated.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post