Public and private Phuket tourism and hospitality representatives today, February 3rd, held a brainstorming session to come up with plans to reopen the island and welcome vaccinated foreign visitors by October to revive its tourism crisis due to the Covid-19 global pandemic.
During the business meeting, many leading local businesses, including the Phuket Chamber of Commerce and the Phuket Tourist Association, have initially agreed to contribute funds for purchasing Covid-19 vaccines for 70 percent of the island’s population, without waiting for government financial support or the overall timeline of the government.
The proposal stated that the vaccines will be distributed to locals above 18 years old, especially hospitality employees, to ensure the province is Covid-19 free before planning to reopen the island for vaccinated foreign tourists by October 1st, 2021.
The plan, titled “Phuket First October”, also seeks to waive a 14-day quarantine to all visitors since they must be already vaccinated. This will attract thousands of vaccinated Europeans who routinely escape the cold to spend their winter in Phuket, said Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association.
The President further stated that the plan is necessary in order to save the currently-deserted island as soon as possible due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus global pandemic. The plan, however, must need government approval and must be discussed with related government departments. Critics on social media have also immediately questioned how, even if the island’s population and tourists are all vaccinated, the virus would not be possibly be transmitted to the mainland and unvaccinated people in Thailand as the transmission of Covid-19 is still not clear due to vaccines.
According to a report from Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Campus, the majority of the locals are experiencing a “sudden crisis”, in which their current income tends to be lower than the medium of the national poverty as the income of Phuket people is only about 1,984 baht per month between February and September while the poverty medium in Thailand is indicated at about 3,044 baht per month.
The President told reporters: “The whole private sector altogether agreed to start welcoming vaccinated tourists without the need to quarantine on October 1. We will start promoting tourism again in April to let interested tourists arrange their plans and let our people prepare their businesses to welcome them.”
“We hope the government would agree to our decision because it is our last try. If we miss this opportunity, it will not only make a massive impact on the economy but also create more social problems that might affect the country as well.” The President concluded.
The Pattaya News notes this is a proposal and needs approval from the Prime Minister and the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration which has shown to be very cautious and risk-averse so far. Pattaya is also considering a similar plan.
Photo Courtesy: Thansettakij
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