Mr Thanusak told a press conference on Wednesday (June 10) that by the end of May COVID-19 had already cost Phuket about B120bn in lost incomes.
“And if the situation hasn’t improved by the end of the year, it will have cost us another B160bn, costing us a total of at least B280bn,” he said, adding that the damage done to Phuket’s economy was “unprecedented”.
“I think that July, August and September still will not bring tourists, and I do not expect foreign tourists to start coming until October,” Mr Thanusak said.
Mr Thanusak said that moves to reopen the island’s tourism industry so far have had little effect.
“Opening the beaches and allowing hotels to repon is just a matter of preparation. In reality, we have to rely on the airport, but the airport is not open yet,” he said.
“The airport may open on June 16 [next Tuesday] or maybe July 1, but longer than that will only make it worse for our businesses,” he added.
Mr Thanusak also said that he expected the push to boost domestic tourism to take time to yield results, as it will take time for confidence to build among those wanting to visit the island.
Although Phuket has not had a confirmed case for many days now, people will not seriously start considering coming to the island until more time has passed and confidence is restored among potential tourists.
“I believe that after about June 22, after 28 days has passed since our last confirmed case, could be the start of more intense business on the island,” he said.
Mr Thanusak called on people and business owners to hold on and not give up hope before tourists return in enough numbers to revive the island’s economy.
“The important thing is that we must not give up, do not lose hope and do not think that Phuket cannot come back,” he said.
“In addition, I ask the government that they must consider that this province has been hit harder than any other province. We have a large number of people affected by this.
“I have asked for the most social security support in the country. I submitted an application for the 90 days of social security support [for people left without income due to the COVID-19 situation] to be extended to a total of 180 days.
“The support for the first three months – March, April, May – is running out, and our request for the support to continue through June, July, August is now being considered,” Mr Thanusak said.
Mr Thanusak called on the government to help the island broaden its economic base beyond tourism-dependent industries.
“People must know that there are more unemployed people here than in any other province because we have one type of economy – tourism. Therefore our hardship is greater than any other provinces that may have industries, such as agriculture or exporting goods, to help them to recover,” he said.