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Key Phuket tourism figures slam ’worst is over’ claim as food donations drive continue

Key Phuket tourism figures slam ’worst is over’ claim as food donations drive continue

PHUKET: Key Phuket tourism figures have outrightly dismissed the claim by a senior Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) marketing official that the “worst is over” for economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that it will take a year for the island’s tourism industry to recover.

By The Phuket News

Tuesday 7 July 2020, 03:48PM

Volunteers with the For Freedom Foundation hand out baby milk powder to poor families on Koh Siray. Photo: For Freedom Foundation

Volunteers with the For Freedom Foundation hand out baby milk powder to poor families on Koh Siray. Photo: For Freedom Foundation

Tanes Petsuwan, TAT Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, early this month called the current situation the “worst crisis in Thai tourism history”.

“I have been working for TAT for more than 30 years, during which we have faced many crises; such as, SARS, Bird Flu, MERS, the tsunami, even our own political crises, but we have seen nothing like this,” he told a panel discussion on the future of Thai tourism held at The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) on July 1.

Mr Tanes said it will be a long time before Thailand again chalks up the 2019 record visitor arrivals of nearly 40 million, but added that the crisis had created an opportunity for the Thai tourism industry to reform itself in preparation for the ‘new normal’.

“This is the best time to make it right,” he said. “We have to move away from quantity to quality.” Mr Tanes said.

However, he also said that the Thai tourism industry has passed its worst phase and is now set to make a slow and steady back to normalcy.

“Seriously? They’re dreaming. The worst for tourism is not over. We need to survive and restore the tourism industry, and that will take about a year,” Weerawit Kreuasombat, President of the Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA) told The Phuket News today (July 7).

“I think the person who said that is someone who stays in the office. They do not see what the reality is over here,” he added.

Mr Weerawit said that so far only 30-40% of the PEBA’s member businesses had reopened their doors since the ban on all pubs, bars and other entertainment venues was lifted on July 1.

Even then, he pointed out, “They have re-opened only because they are trying to survive, but there is not much income to cover their expenses. We need to be patient and survive.”

Bhuritt Maswongssa, General Manager of the Patong Resort Hotel and a key well-respected member of the Tourism Development Committee of the South Andaman Tourism Development Area under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, told The Phuket News blankly, “For the hotel industry, it is not over.”

“Many hotels are being sold, plus many hotel staff do not have a job. Tour companies are still closing, tour bus businesses are being sold and buses are being repossessed by finance companies,” he said.

“Even though there have been no new infections here, it does not mean the COVID-19 pandemic is over, because COVID-19 is still breaking out around the world. A second wave here is still possible

“It has not come back to normal yet. I think we have to be patient until next year,” he said. 

Meanwhile, private efforts by local people continue to provide food and other basic necessities to those left without any income or any government support due to the crisis.

The “Feeding Friends Patong” campaign in Patong is continuing its efforts, and last Friday provided another 200 food bags to people in need, and the Help Phuket Today campaign has issued another urgent call for donations.

“We have fed over 340 families with the money we raised. We now have 273 families in desperate need of food on Coconut Island,” campaign organisers said in a Facebook post earlier this week.

“On top of that so many people who worked directly or indirectly with the tourism industry are continuing to lose their jobs. We have seen kids picking through leaves for food – please, contribute and help these families.

“We have managed to make food packs up now for B250 and each one will feed a family for a week. You can get them at the cashier at any Villa Market in Phuket. They will make them up and deliver them to us,” the post added.

“Thank you to everyone who has bought Lean on Me Food packs so far and a massive thank you to both the Phuket Academy of Performing Arts for the wonderful initiative and song, and to Villa Market for their constant support. We have so many more families in need – some in more desperate situations than before,” Help Phuket Today pointed out.

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mgb | 09 July 2020 - 13:43:13

“We have to move away from quantity to quality.” Mr Tanes said.  5555555.
Phuket had that so they covered the land with condo's and turned then rest into a car park.  Look how Soi Namtok has been destroyed with mass eating venue. Busses blowing black smoke up and down the soi for 5 pm till 10. Garbage overflowing on the street outside the cable ski "Chinese mass eating venue. Shame, ...

Capricornball | 08 July 2020 - 12:52:45

TaT is irrelevant, always been full of $#!^ and clueless. And grand words from PEBA thug who sees tourism only as how it affects the vice business they control. This island is economically gutted...and it ain't going to turn around for a long time. The silver lining is the absence of taxis and minivans and buses, and no sewage coming out of the hotels.

Kurt | 08 July 2020 - 10:47:09

As long the very Covid-19 'worse' is worldwide increasing, that long the 'worse' for Thailand is not over. To keep the very 'worse' out, Thailand has to continue what it is good in, remain isolating herself. No TAT job, but work for food providing Thai Officialdom.

Kurt | 08 July 2020 - 10:41:59

TAT became a financially very well self contained 'industry' on her own. Just blows predictions of non existing matters in the air. A fairytale organisation, paying herself good salaries.
Looks lovely to work there, without any responsibility for crystal ball looking.

CaptainJack69 | 07 July 2020 - 23:16:20

How can tourism even exist when the airports are closed? Domestic tourism? Don't make me laugh. Just as well the TAT has no credibility what-so-ever or people might be tempted to believe this nonsense.

Fascinated | 07 July 2020 - 22:41:20

The Brit word for rubbish is 'Tat'- how appropriate. TAT always burys its head in the sand and tries to paint a rosy picture whilst people are relying on handouts. I personally don't think anyone believes what they say.

Galong | 07 July 2020 - 18:11:18

“I think the person who said that is someone who stays in the office." NAILED IT! The TAT is not in touch with reality, never have been and probably never will be.  They're only good for putting bums in seats: specifically Chinese bums. Kudos to controlling the virus in the Kingdom, but the price was tourism. It's not coming back for a long time. Domestic tourism is a joke. They alm...


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