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TAT and Tourism Ministry push for domestic tourism in Phuket

Neill Fronde



FILE PHOTO: Phuket aims to bring tourism back, both domestic and foreign.

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


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  1. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    Honestly, if you had let it run its course from the beginning, it would be over by now.

    Have fun with these fantasies though. Asians will be living in this delusional lockdown world for many years to come.

  2. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 2:47 pm

    If vaccinated I hope no quarantine and expensive covid insurances and can have alcohol too

  3. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    As Asie is in the third wave not many will risk coming not at least next year, hopefully Thailand will be vaccinated by then

  4. Avatar

    Frank Andersson

    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    Why would Thai people (read Bangkok people) go to Phuket, when places like Pattaya and Hua Hin are in short driving distance, and are much more open for “tourists” then Phuket is.

    It will take a long time for Phuket to get up on its feet so it’s interesting for tourists of any origin. Thai government is not making anything regarding this any easier with there lack of commitment.

  5. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    Ok so is that vaccinated Thai tourists? With all the work going into eliminating the virus in Phuket so that it can open to international tourists who are vaccinated, why would you encourage Thais, who by and large aren’t vaccinated to come to Phuket? If you want international tourists to come, keep it in a bubble. Thailand has over 45,000 currently infected. It’s uncertain if they can even fully vaccinate the citizens of Phuket. Looks like the TAT is up to it’s usual “Mad cap” ideas, which could only serve to dissuade interntional tourists from low risk countries considering coming.

  6. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    @Jason Great point. As you say, it makes no sense to create a bubble only to then allow people from the mainland to travel unvaccinated. Surely you need the same rules for Thais and foreigners? Oh sorry, wait. This is Thailand we are talking about. When have the same rules ever applied. Even when it is a health issue, they still can’t fathom the most basic ideas of equality. What person looking for 2 weeks in the sun will do this? Even if they decided it was worth it to experience Phuket, what an insult to then find the group of Thais you are sat next to walked in unvaccinated and untested and staying for a couple of days. They just can not stop the racist mindset.

  7. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    You dictators and silly TAT/Sports ministries: You’ve broken the foreign tourism industry, where the real income was, for years to come with your fantasy on and off schemes and complicated entry requirements. You’ve stalled a vaccine rollout that most of the world had in place many months ago. And now you come out with yet another “proposal” to entice Thais to go to Phuket? These folks are concerned about day to day survival under your incompetent regime, not going to some mostly shuttered island. Concentrate on getting your citizens in ALL provinces vaccinated if they want. asap. Stop the stupid tank purchasing, fund shifting and vaccine delays. At least try. TRY to get a lid on this thing then worry about tourism when or if that happens. Get it done

  8. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    No Way i allready reed the new rules

  9. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    No way allready reed the new rules, they will keep you in some kind of jaill. You still have to be check for virus, and you have to wear facemask where ever you go, indsite and outsite. If you bring children the show will much more bad for all.

  10. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    And don’t forget, when there is a further outbreak , who will they blame? It won’t be the Unvaccinated Thais who popped in to Phuket for a long weekend from Bangkok. It will be the vaccinated and tested dirty foreigners who infected the island.

  11. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    I think TAT in Phuket is being a bit hasty. Memorandums of understanding are quite complicated, and have to be prepared properly so they can be understood.
    TAT are not even setting up a committee. All Thai governments, national and local need committees for all matters. This is how things are done in Thailand.
    I suggest the TAT Phukers should all fly up to Bangkok, book a week at a five star hotel, with conference room, and debate this memorandum of understanding in great detail.
    When complete this memorandum should be recorded on paper, in case the committees’ memory of the memorandum fails later.
    To limit the TAT committees’ sacrifices for work, of course they should take their wives, do some shopping, see some sights, and go and become roaring drunk in a bar, if they can find one open.

  12. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    Hopefully if Phuket proves successful, it may not be necessary to have to stay in Bangkok (for quarantine) when transiting to other destinations (Chiang Mai for instance). I’m not sure I want to stay in an ASQ in the epicentre of new cases. Things may well be very different by December (our latest attempt having cancelled /rearranged 4 aborted trips.
    Get the vaccines rolled out Prayut pdq.

  13. Avatar

    Mr cynic

    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 6:13 pm

    Many thai tourists have exactly the same complaints about phuket as foreign visitors.thai tourists get ripped off there also.the view of ka cynic and most of her friends is the place is an overpriced dump and the cost of decent food is extortionate.ka cynic does not come from an impoverished background and is far from stupid.
    hua hin is a way better choice for bangkok thais,the century plus of catering to visitors and treating them decently so they return shows quite clearly.
    Why the pirates of phuket even think the destination is appealing to thai tourists is bizzare.a weekend in phuket has about as much appeal as a weekend in the hanoi hilton to most bangkok thais.
    Why they think they will flock there now in droves is ridiculous.

  14. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    “As you say, it makes no sense to create a bubble only to then allow people from the mainland to travel unvaccinated”

    @Nigel, the rules ALREADY allow “people from the mainland to travel unvaccinated” to Phuket as long as they only go for the day – and plenty of delivery drivers do so regularly.

    By definition, as well as common sense, you can’t quarantine people if you allow those who aren’t quarantined to mingle with them freely.

    It’s simply impossible.

    Add in all the things required for a holiday to be a holiday rather than a punishment – no masks, bars and restaurants open, “entertainment”, parties, etc – and you obviously encourage more and more Thais who don’t have that to go there.

    Don’t allow those things, keep masks, keep bars closed, etc, and no tourists will come.

    It’s a classic Catch-22.

    “they still can’t fathom the most basic ideas of equality … They just can not stop the racist mindset.”

    How can there be any “equality” for Thais if they’re not allowed to go to a bar, have a party, etc, in their own country but foreigners are????

    How can they have a “racist mindset” when they’re the ones who are being penalised, in their own country?

    You can blame the Thai government or the Thai GDP because they don’t have the vaccines the West has, but that doesn’t make Thais “racist”!

    It’s simply asinine.

    It’s an attitude sadly typical of so many ignorant, bigoted, racist Westerners:

    … because we should all have “equality”, what’s yours is ours otherwise you’re “racist” …

    … and what’s ours is ours because otherwise it’s not “equality” but a handout.

    It’d be funny if only it wasn’t quite so absurdly stupid, irrational and inconsistent.

  15. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 7:48 pm

    “And don’t forget, when there is a further outbreak , who will they blame?”

    … and don’t forget that’s the complete opposite of reality and what’s actually happened, @Nigel!

    Those “who popped in to Phuket for a long weekend from Bangkok” DID get blamed, Thai and farang alike.

    … and FWIW don’t try defending your specious argument about “equality” and “racism” accusations on the grounds that the foreign tourists are vaccinated, as that falls at the first hurdle you erected – where’s the “equality” there?

  16. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    TAT has been try to get Thais to come to Phuket for a year now with little to no luck. Basically it’s too far and too expensive. Why do they think things will be different now?

  17. Avatar

    J West

    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    Haven’t we just witnessed three back to back failed domestic tourism ministry sponsored fiasco’s ?

    By now we all know,

    a) Domestic Thai tourists don’t flock to Phuket. Thai can’t afford Phuket. They prefer inexpensive camping within driving distance of their Nontaburi suburbs. Beaches are empty, national parks are fully booked. All last year they were offering 50% discounts and still…no Thai.

    Phuket debauchery is not a family destination…and most Thai with children know it. There’s Baan Saen…a half hour from Bangkok and the kids can sleep in their own beds.

    B) HISO Thai can’t/won’t pay Phuket resort prices . Only resident farang ever use the resorts for weekend excursions.

    HISO Thai obvious don’t see any value in Phuket when “going abroad” is HISO culture ( they go in organized groups) and EU beach resorts are far cheaper by comparison and Thai ladies have the de rigeur seasonal shopping lists.

    c) that leaves only resident professional farang. Ask any hotelier what the TAT won’t tell you…. Without the foreign professionals the resort trade is dead. But the Thai government reps will never admit to the fact.

    d) Farang aren’t spending on resorts…especially during monsoon. But also , we’re generally in agreement that boycotting the racist regime is fun and effective. Let them starve.

  18. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 9:23 pm

    Thailand and rest of South east asia is totally delusional. Malaysia and Singapore not even planning to reopen to vaccinated travellers this year.i Guess pandemic Forever it is.

  19. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 11:37 pm

    @simon small. WTF is wrong with you. You are either employed by this company or by the government. How can you be bothered to go through each and every post and dissect what has been said. And in many cases picking it out only to agree with what has been said. You are either mad or sad which is it ?

    • Thaiger


      Sunday, June 6, 2021 at 9:50 am

      He certainly isn’t employed by Thaiger. Maybe a borish, combative contrarian, but he’s entitled to his thoughts. His spelling and grammar are excellent, which deserves credit.

  20. Avatar


    Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 11:48 pm

    months ago patong was a ghost town. the only interesting part, phuket town, wass half closed, even the mall was rather empty. who’s interested in such desertified place?

  21. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Sunday, June 6, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Having watched the director TAT Phuket give a video interview, unmasked, while driving his daughter to school, I didn’t think it was possible for the TAT to be more blinkered.

    Wrong again.

    How, in the midst of the worst Covid outbreak in Thailand (so far), can anyone with a functioning brain cell propose travel subsidies to encourage Thais to travel?

    Particularly to an area which is supposedly “quarantined”?

  22. Avatar


    Sunday, June 6, 2021 at 9:49 am

    Anyone else sick of hearing all about Phuket, I know that I am.

    • Thaiger


      Sunday, June 6, 2021 at 9:58 am

      We will be DELIGHTED when all the fuss over the Phuket Sandbox is out of the news!!

  23. Avatar

    J. Johnston

    Sunday, June 6, 2021 at 11:18 am

    @TS – Bravo. Send your comment to every media outlet in the world !

  24. Avatar


    Sunday, June 6, 2021 at 2:46 pm

    I truly do hope the opening of Phuket happens. But as I said earlier, only if Thais from outside of Phuket are not permitted into the province. There is no racism or malice in my comment. It is simply to preserve the conditions of vaccinated people (local Thais and international travellers). These are small steps toward a steady opening of Thailand to tourists again. If it is done carefully and works without any major outbreaks, things will then continue to build and improve. I have very much enjoyed my visits to Phuket. I enjoy the environment and the people and their culture. I respect Thai people (yes even if they charge me more). I don’t mind that, because it’s still cheaper than a holiday in my own country :))) I also know it helps them, their families and the economy in general. I really would love to see Phuket become a model of how the road to recovery can happen. So get vaccinating and get vaccinated Phuket. After 15 months of environmental rest, I am looking forward to seeing beaches that are free of rubbish, streets that are clean and clear, fish swimming in clear waters and a renewed Phuket.

  25. Avatar

    Shafiur Rahman

    Monday, June 7, 2021 at 2:01 am

    @Frank Andersson –

  26. Avatar


    Monday, June 7, 2021 at 2:06 am

    Thai Foreign Ministry targeting Only Rich Tourists.A total useless plan.
    Local Thais are passing very hard days while the politicians are enjoying a happy luxurious life.

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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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