From July 1 to last Saturday (Sept 4) a total of 346 flights had arrived in Phuket, bringing 28,197 Sandbox tourists, Governor Narong told Deputy Army Chief Gen Nattapol Nakpanich during a ZOOM conference yesterday (Sept 5), reported the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department (PR Phuket).
Of note, Gen Nattapol also serves as chair of an ad hoc committee of the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in Bangkok.
Of those 28,197 Sandbox tourists, 88 had been confirmed as infected with COVID-19, Governor Narong continued, adding that 67 of those had recovered.
The “top 5 tourists”, not including Thais, were from the United States of America (3,721), followed by the United Kingdom (3,470), Israel (3,153), France (2,262) and Germany (2,247), Governor Narong said.
So far 10,492 Sandbox tourists had already returned home, and 17,705 had completed their 14-day stay in Phuket and had traveled to other provinces of Thailand, he added.
Just 4,963 Sandbox tourists remained in Phuket, Governor Narong said yesterday.
However, the Sandbox scheme had already injected more than B1.634bn into the economy, Gov Narong noted.
The Governor presented a breakdown of Sandbox tourists’ spending, as follows:
- Accommodation - B565 million
- Buying tourism products and services - B376 million
- Food and beverage purchases - B350 million
- Medical and health services - B229 million
- Other expenses - B114 million
“The B1.634bn spent by tourists nourishes and drives the economy, as well as having the effect of spreading economic benefits to various sectors both directly related to tourism, such as hotels, restaurants, passenger transport, and so on, and other businesses that are supply chains supporting the tourism industry, such as agriculture, industry, energy, among others,” Governor Narong said.
The “multiplier effect” as income is re-spent throughout the economy could generate as much as B3.818 million for the economy, he added.
“As for the number of SHA+ nights booked, the number of bookings from July to September totals 484,427 room nights,” Governor Narong continued.
“The overview of the implementation of the Phuket Sandbox plan can still go forward,” he assured.
“Disease control in the area is currently being carried out in the province by proactively inspecting the risk areas and risk groups, such as migrant workers at workers’ camps, people in the fishing industry, and sea gypsies, among others, which have seen the number of infected people in the province increase over the past week, averaging 200-250 new infections [a day],” Gov Narong explained.
“When an infected person is found, they must be brought into the treatment system immediately,” he said.
The report announcing that the Sandbox scheme has already generated B1.6bn for the island follows former Phuket MP Anchalee Vanich Tephabutra last Thursday (Sept 2) reporting that the average monthly income across Phuket stood at B1,961 ‒ a figure she described as plunging people into “acute poverty”.
This number is considered lower than the poverty line in Thailand,” she added.
The devastation to people’s incomes across the island was made clear by Dr Chayanon Pucharoen, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at the Prince of Songkla University (PSU) Phuket’s Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism, who in March this year was asked to present his understanding of the economic situation in Phuket to Deputy Prime Minister Jurin Laksanawisit.
The news was not good.
The central government’s “We Travel Together” campaign was able to generate B1.5bn for the province, Dr Chayanon reported at the time.
However, that did not prevent the number of unemployed people in Phuket rising to about 64,000.
The average income had fallen to only B1,900 per person per month, he said.
Asked whether Ms Anchalee’s assessment of the monthly average income of just B1,961 (about US$60 a month) was accurate, Dr Chayanon told The Phuket News today, “The situation has not changed.”