“Phuket has been through a lot,” says Pira. “When you look back at the financial crisis of 1997 or the tsunami of 2004, it is apparent that the island emerges from a crisis much stronger. COVID-19 will be no different.”
Before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the WHO, it was predicted that Thailand would see 350,000 infections and 7,000 deaths by mid-April 2020. To ensure that those figures remained pessimistic projections, the Thai government declared a state of emergency and took stringent measures to contain the virus. Borders were closed, most Thai provinces were placed under lockdown, and a nationwide curfew was imposed.
Phuket underwent a more serious lockdown than other areas since the island had the highest number of coronavirus infections per capita in Thailand. Thus, businesses had to temporarily halt operations, including Blue Horizon Developments. With employees working remotely at limited capacity and its contractors unable to proceed with construction projects, the award-winning company suffered losses.
The President of Phuket Chamber of Commerce, Thanusak Phungdet, recently stated that Phuket is the hardest hit province in Thailand. It has already lost ฿120 billion in income and is expected to lose another ฿160 billion by year-end if the situation does not improve.
While many investors and developers wonder what the future holds, Pira is confident that the property market will improve by the first quarter of 2021. “Thailand is among the few places in the world that have successfully kept the virus at bay, and Phuket is no exception,” says the real estate tycoon, who praises the country’s leadership, community spirit and healthcare system in dealing with the pandemic. “The economy and the property market will heal. This could be the longest and most painful recovery period to go through, but as with any crisis, COVID-19 offers opportunities for improvement.”
Blue Horizon Developments resumed its operations at the beginning of July and is back in full swing. Aside from honouring professional commitments, both the company’s CEO and employees have been giving back to Phuket’s residents after being inspired by their sense of community, especially during times of hardship.
Blue Horizon Developments has been showing its continued appreciation for Phuket by supporting over 700 underprivileged kids on the island through visa and work permit sponsorship for English teachers. The company’s employees also distributed food and other necessities to nearby residents together with Andres Pira, who covered all the costs, to help those suffering from a loss of income.
“My team has taken it upon themselves to clean the beaches around Phuket to make them even more stunning than they already are,” says Pira beaming with pride. “We hope to share some of the love and kindness we have received over the years from the generous locals, help ease their struggles, and make the island a more liveable place for everyone here and anyone looking to make Phuket their home. We would like to play our part in Phuket’s recovery from COVID-19.”