“One loss is a lot,” Governor Narong told The Phuket News.
The goal is for the island to suffer zero casualties during the holiday period this year.
Phuket concluded the Seven Days of Danger road safety campaign for Songkran last year with an official tally of one dead and 21 injured.
Nationwide, the official tally during last year’s Songkran holiday period stood at 277 people killed and 2,357 injured in almost 2,400 road accidents, with drink-driving involved in over a third of accidents.
“Dear brothers and sisters, during the upcoming Songkran festival. What we don’t want to happen is loss. Even one person is considered a lot. Therefore, everyone is asked to be careful regarding road safety. We have to help each other obey traffic rules, so please be careful,” Governor Narong said.
Officials have yet to announce the dates for the Seven Days campaign for this Songkran, but the public holidays this year have been extended to cover six consecutive days, starting this Sunday, from Apr 10-15.
Road safety initiatives for the holidays have already been launched, including the Department of Rural Roads setting up a national safety centre hotline at Tel: 1164 with provincial support staff for people to report any roads, bridges, traffic signals or street lighting need immediate repair.
“At the same time, we are still amid an outbreak [of infections]. Measures that we have adhered to and practice together must continue. Please help take care of yourself to the fullest,” Governor Narong said.
The number of infections in Phuket has been falling in recent weeks, with officials marking 222 new infections yesterday, down from the mid-300s last week. Officials marked only 192 new infections for Tuesday, while national reports mark infections climbing elsewhere in the country.
Meanwhile, the lagging number of tourists visiting the island remains the Governor’s top priorities. Despite the “eased” entry requirements for tourists comeing into effect on Apr 1, Phuket airport has not seen any noticeable increase in the number of international visitors landing on the island.
“To solve the problems of the people’s stomachs [feeding the people], we must move forward. Phuket’s main source of income is from tourism and services, therefore we need to have various activities for those who come to impress visitors, so they can have fun and be happy with their visit,” Governor Narong said.
“Therefore, we will have many activities during this period. including in the part of the activities that we try to create, such as in the field of sports," Governor Narong added.
Even Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn has finally admitted that tourism is expected to take a hit during the Songkran holidays this year, which he attributed to the current economic situation and the rising number of infections reported as a national total.
Among the key dampeners affecting tourist sentiment this year is the ruling that no water play is allowed throughout the country during the festivities.
Phuket officials, restricted in what they are allowed to approve as Songkran events due to the COVID restrictions issued from Bangkok, have been holding localised food fairs and festivals, with live entertainment, in the hope of distributing what income is being generated on the island. The events have been praised as successful in helping local vendors earn some increased income.
Among the localised events has been the Roi Rim Lay seafood festival, already held in Karon, Kamala, Phuket Town and Cherng Talay. In Phuket last week, Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn announced that that the Roi Rim Lay Festival will be held at the Sarasin Bridge in Mai Khao next Monday and Tuesday (Apr 11-12) in an effort to boost tourism and the local economy.
While in Phuket, Tourism Minister Phiphat also announced that Phuket Bike Week will return this year, on May 13-15. The event, now marking its 26th year, is hoped to generate some B60 million in direct spending by visitors arriving from 20 countries, providing a much-needed boost to the island’s stifled economy.