Mr Natthakorn explained that there are about 7,000 tour guides registered to work in Phuket, reported Post Today. (See story here.)
Of those, an estimated 3,000 are qualified and registered to lead tours in Chinese language, he added.
“During this time of the year is usually the peak season for Phuket tourism, but now more than 3,000 Chinese-speaking guides have no work because of the fall in the number of Chinese tourists [coming to Phuket],” Mr Natthakorn said.
Even the guides not specifically trained to lead Chinese tours are being affected, he added.
“In this situation, we have to adapt ourselves and cooperate with officials to promote tourism,” Mr Natthakorn stressed.
“Tour guides have to adapt and improve themselves by learning more languages used in Southeast Asia and work more with airlines, such as AirAsia and Nok Air, to promote tourism in neighboring countries,” he added.
“The target groups should be middle-class people in each country, and attract them by giving them promotions to come during the Songkran festival [Thai New Year] in April,” Mr Natthakorn said.
“Our association also wants a soft loan from the government in order to keep our industry going in this situation,” he urged.
“I predict that the coronavirus will affect Phuket tourism longer than six months, and more tourists will not come until October, Mr Natthakorn added.
Confirmation of the dire situation was initially confirmed by statistics posted by the TAT Intelligence Centre last week, marking huge falls in the number of international tourists arriving in Phuket for the same period last year.
Last Monday the number of arrivals had fallen 12.04% year-on-year. Last Tuesday that number blew out to -29.8%, by Wednesday last the number of arrivals had plunged by 32.98%. Thursday’s international arrivals had recovered to a fall of “only” 8.6%
But the plunge returned in full vigour last Friday (Jan 31) as total international arrivals – not just Chinese – fell by 38.64% year on year.
The number of international arrivals Saturday (Feb 1) “recovered” somewhat to a plunge of 30.23%, before nosediving again to Sunday (Feb 2) seeing the plunge blow out to -41.04%, then to -44.22% yesterday.
Phuket Governor yesterday (Feb 3) assured that the government is doing everything it can to curtail the spread of the virus in Phuket, and elsewhere in Thailand, and still promoting tourism to the island. (See story here.)