MPs from the Bhumjaithai Party and other relevant officials joined the meeting with Phuket based private sector bodies and businesses at 9am at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Laguna where the message was for Phuket residents to “be ready” to support measures proposed to manage the situation.
Mr Anutin explained the government is fully aware of and concerned as to the impact of COVID-19 nationwide and particularly how badly the tourism sector has been impacted in Phuket which in turn has caused great distress to many.
He assured those in attendance who operate in the local tourism sector that the government’s intention is to relax as many measures as is feasibly and safely possible to allow the industry to recover and flourish again as soon as possible.
This would include promoting and building careers, encouraging travel to the province, suspending and/or preventing any seizures of properties and, on a broader scale, promoting Phuket as the medical centre of the Andaman coast and infrastructure developments to push a mass transit system connecting light rail, roads and tunnels to major tourist attractions.
However, a common concern shared by those attending the meeting was a fear that officials cannot effectively manage the situation should a second wave emerge. The news of a fresh infection in Bangkok last week, the first in 100 days, has unnerved some and led to the assumption that Phuket reopening to tourists next month, serving as a national model, is likely to now be pushed back.
Mr Anutin explained that the situation now is very different to when the virus first hit back in March and that access to medical supplies is much more plentiful now than back then.
He also added that, while there is currently no cure or vaccine available, the widespread understanding of the disease and how to treat infected patients is much more comprehensive now which will aid any efforts required to contain it.
“I am confident in the Thai public health system being able to control and prevent any spread of COVID-19,” he said.
“I can confirm that the government is doing everything it can to provide help and to make the situation as safe as possible so pilot schemes like the one proposed in Phuket can begin and help the tourism get back to where it was.
“We must all have hope that we can find a way, unite and move together,” he added.