Before the pandemic, the average income in Phuket was B43,000 per month, Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panapong told a meeting of the Communicable Disease Committee.
After the outbreak began last year, the average income fell to B8,303 per month, he said.
“If the tourism industry and the island’s economy does not recover, the average income in Phuket is likely to keep decreasing,” he added.
“in July, the average income will be only B1,964,” Vice Governor Pichet noted.
Vice Governor Pichet’s dire prediction yesterday is consistent with the economic forecast delivered by Assistant Professor Dr Chayanon Phucharoen, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism, Prince of Songkla University (PSU) Phuket campus, last month.
Speaking at the meeting, Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO) Chief Kusak Kukiattikoon said, “At this stage, the Phuket government and the tourism private sector [sic] had filed a request to the central government for 933,174 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.”
The number of vaccines is to be provided to 466,587 people, more than 70% of people living on the island, Dr Kusak said.
“Phuket has 417,402 people registered in the civil registration [database] as living in Phuket,” Dr Kusak said.
“The other groups are 94,100 people working in the tourism industry who are not registered as living in Phuket, 5,250 people working in other industries, and 56,700 foreigners living on the island,” he added, providing a total of 573,452 people believed to be on the island today.
“But the vaccination will be provided only to those who are older than 18 years, so there are 310,357 residents in total [to be vaccinated],” Dr Kusak noted.
Dr Kusak gave the quota of vaccine doses to be provided to Phuket as: 4,000 doses arriving in March, 100,000 in April, 300,000 in May, 200,000 in June, 64,587 in July, 200,000 in August and September, and 64,587 in September and October.
The breakdown gives a total 933,174 doses to vaccinate 466,587 people.
Permission from Bangkok for Phuket to start receiving international tourists from July 1 is dependent on the island achieving “herd immunity” to the COVID virus by having at least 70% of the island’s residents vaccinated.
However, while in recent days officials have consistently cited the same population figures given by Dr Kusak yesterday, Phuket officials have yet to explain different figuresgiven just weeks ago for how many people are on the island, and need to be vaccinated in order to satisfy Bangkok’s requirement.
The main discrepancy is the number of foreigners on the island.
On Mar 19, previous Vachira Hospital Director Chalermpong Sukontapol told the press, “At this stage, Phuket has about 600,000 people, comprising 417,000 people registered as permanent residents in the civil registration database, 100,000 people from other provinces, and 81,000 foreigners and migrant workers.”
As recognised by Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew yesterday, a major obstacle to achieving herd immunity, and reopening Phuket to international tourists from July 1, is the apprehension among island residents themselves to be vaccinated.
An online poll by The Phuket News poll last month revealed that Phuket people were divided on whether or not to take a COVID vaccine.
Overall, 28% of respondents voted an outright “Yes” to taking a COVID vaccine, and a further 28% voted “It depends on the vaccine”.
The remaining 43% voted an outright “No” to taking a COVID vaccine.
Regardless, Dr Kusak explained yesterday, “The PPHO will set up nine vaccination stations across the island, at: Phuket Rajabhat University, Saphan Hin stadium, Prince of Songkla University [Phuket campus], Chalong Hospital, Phuket Orchid Resort, Jungceylon shopping mall, the Angsana Convention and Exhibition hall [at the Angsana Laguna Phuket resort], the Thanyapura Health Resort and Splash Resort Phuket.
“The Phuket government and the private sector have to work together for tourism to recover,” he said.