Wirintra Paphakitjayotpat, a tour operator, said plainly, “It’s a good idea to let foreign tourists in, so we can make some income.”
“I am not worried about COVID-19 infections because the tourists must be scanned by the CCSA. They must be rich enough to afford the costs, and love themselves enough for doing it,” Ms Wirintra said.
“As a business operator, I have already prepared temperature checkers and hand-washing gels. The Phuket government, the Phuket Health Office and other officials have done their best, and we all are ready to welcome tourists.
“Come to Phuket to make income for business owners and local people.” she urged.
Thitirat Promsuphat, a massage shop owner, also supported the return of tourists.
However, she added, “I am still concerned and worried about the pandemic. We all must protect ourselves and trust officials’ measures. They must be sure that it will be 100% safe before letting tourists come.
Yet the income is much needed. “The pandemic has caused an economic crisis, and we do not have much money for living,” Ms Thitirat said.
Patong motorbike taxi driver “Mr Tiaw” also welcomed the move to reopen tourism.
“Time passes, but nothing gets better. I get only about B80 per day, which can afford to pay for only two meals. I do not have any other income,” he said.
“I think that if the government wants to let tourists in, they must be confident enough about their own measures before doing it.”
Patong fruit vendor Ms Wilai also welcomed the move, especially to help relieve her financial hardship.
“I want foreign tourists to come because I do not have any income and it is hard to pay living costs at this stage… If they [tourists] do not come this month, I will die from starving. Most masseuses have already gone back to their hometowns, so I don’t know who will buy my goods.
However, Ms Wilai also stressed the need for effective infection-preventive measures to be in force.
“I trust officials, doctors, medical staff and the government’s measures… Phuket people know well that right now there is no pandemic in Phuket, but we still need to protect ourselves,” she said.
Somtam vendor Mr Somporn praised the return of tourists, noting how especially hard Patong had been affected by the fall of tourism to the pandemic.
“It’s good because most of the businesses in Patong have already shut down. My business too. People in Patong cannot live without foreign tourists, it is not like other areas where there are a lot of Thai people.
“Patong is now a cemetery,” he said.
Patong beach masseuse Ms Boonrueng agreed. “I’m glad that tourists are coming. I feel like I will be able to go back to work and make money again,” she said.
“Now there are Thai tourists, but not many. I trust officials’ measures because we have not had any new cases for a long time – and tourists come, they will have to be quarantined first anyway,” she added.