The idea was delivered at a meeting held yesterday (May 22) at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa in Mai Khao, attended by 20 representatives of the private sector from Phuket and Phang Nga, said a report by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department.
Among those present for the meeting were Thanusak Phungdet, President of the Phuket Chamber of Commerce, along with Nanthasiri Ronnasiri,Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket Office and the President of the Phang Nga Tourist Business Association.
After the meeting, Mr Jurin made a statement to the media explaining that the purpose of his visit was to meet with officials and private sector representatives from both Phuket and Phang Nga “to drive the economy of the Andaman area”.
“And at the moment there are two main factors driving the national economy: agriculture and tourism, with factors,” he said.
Mr Jurin began his statement focussing on the agricultural sector, saying that prices for agricultural products were still holding strong.
“At the moment, it is considered that the prices of almost all agricultural products are good, whether it is rubber, which is currently more than B60 per kilogramme. The price of oil palm has been holding at B5-6 per kilogramme, which is considered to be a price higher than previously,” he said.
“In general, farmers are satisfied, including those growing various fruits. The prices are very good, especially recently for mangosteen grown in Chanthaburi province, which has been reported to be almost B200 baht per kilogramme,” he said.
“As for durian, the price is more than B100 per kilogramme, and therefore the agricultural crop price is considered to have satisfied farmers, especially farmers in Phang Nga and Phuket, and has resulted in better export figures.
“The economic driving mechanism currently playing an important role in boosting GDP for the nation is exports, and in recent months exports have improved. In March by 8.57% and April is expected to increase by at least 13%,” Mr Jurin said.
After talking about fruit prices, Mr Jurin turned his attention to tourism, through which Phuket and Phang Nga previously had generated hundreds of billions of baht each year for the country.
“But at the same time, the tourism engine is still stuck due to the COVID-19 epidemic, especially regarding foreign tourists. So there was a meeting today to prepare and implement practical measures to support the plan to open for tourism, especially in Phuket on July 1, this time called Phuket Tourism Sandbox, which will cover the area of Phang Nga as well,” he said.
The meeting was held “because there is a need to work together in ways. Andaman cluster tourists who will come to Phuket will also go to Phang Nga,” he explained.
“Now, the key factors that will enable Phuket to open to foreign tourists on July 1 as the goal depends on vaccines and other administrations as well to present to the CCSA [Centre for COVID Situation Administration in Bangkok] and the [national] government [as if they are different] are as follows,” he said.
“1. Request that the Phuket vaccination management plan is in accordance with the national plan, namely Phuket must have 933,174 doses of vaccination injections provided to 466,587 people in Phuket, thus covering 70% of the total population [of the island]
“2. Ask Phang Nga Province to quickly adjust the plan to accommodate foreign tourists in accordance with Phuket, according to the Phuket Tourism Sandbox on July 1, because the sale of tours or travel plans to foreign tourists should be sold together. Both Phuket and Phang Nga attractions will help attract more tourists to come in the form of the Andaman cluster.
“3. Ask Phuket airport to prepare all aspects to support foriegn tourists arriving in July, which will have direct flights from partner countries that will be open to their national travelling as tourists to Thailand, such as England, Germany and Russia, the United States, Israel, France and Scandinavia. Phuket Airport has to prepare for each scheduled flight, which may arrive at 4am or 5am, or during non-normal working hours. [They must prepare] especially for personnel and the disease control checkpoint.
“4. Phuket Province and Phang Nga Province will make a tourism plan called ‘Travel Thailand Together’, and when the time is right we will be able to attract tourists to both provinces and make it more convenient for Thai tourists [to come] in accordance with government policy.
“For other provinces in the Andaman group, such as Krabi, we will have a joint meeting in June,” Mr Jurin said.
TAT pushes for Australian tourists
Meanwhile, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Sydney office has launched the second installment of its campaign to encourage Australians to travel to Thailand once restrictions are eased.
The campaign, the “Amazing Thailand Trivia Challenge” Season 2, will run from May 20 to June 16. The campaign offers gift vouchers of AUS$50 as minor prizes and a gift voucher of $500 as the top prize for answering trivia questions about Thailand.
Suladda Sarutilavan, Director of TAT Sydney office said, “As the travel restrictions are still in place, we cannot travel to Thailand at this time; however, we hope that Australians will choose Thailand for their first overseas holiday when we are able to travel again internationally in the near future.”
The mass vaccination programme for anybody living in Thailand will allow the country to reopen safely to international tourists, the TAT said in its notice announcing the campaign.
Phuket will be the first to lift quarantine for vaccinated foreign tourists, followed by Krabi, Phang Nga, Surat Thani (Ko Samui), Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai, it added.
“With the vaccination programme going ahead as planned, Thailand’s reopening roadmap will go ahead as scheduled, with Phuket the first to open to fully-vaccinated visitors, from 1 July, 2021. We cannot wait to welcome everyone to Thailand soon,” Ms Suladda said.
“The pandemic has given Mother Nature a respite, with the Andaman Sea becoming clearer than it has been in years, marine life flourishing, and local reservoirs full of fresh water. We believe that everyone will fall in love with the beauty of Thailand once again,” Ms Suladda concluded.