In poetic language, Mr Bhummikitti in a post on his Facebook page called for tourism business operators to not rely on government help, but to take action to help themselves.
He also criticised the mobile Cabinet meeting held in Phuket early this month as failing to take the pleas for help from Phuket tourism businesses seriously.
“Certainly, Phuket tourism business will not wait for the medicine from the government to fight Covid-19, but we will keep producing our own vaccine for our business. We will pass through this crisis together with our harmony,” Mr Bhummikitti wrote.
In a previous post, Mr Bhummikitti metaphorically aligned Phuket’s predicament during the current economic crisis with the Thai mythical figure Phra Mahajanaka.
“Phuket tourism is like Phra Mahajanaka, who survived his boat sinking and kept swimming in the wide ocean for seven days. When he knew his destination, he kept swimming even though he did not see the land.
“Because of luck and the good karma he had created, a giant crab kept lifting him up and let him stand on it so he could rest and save his energy in order to swim further. [Phra Mahajanaka was eventually rescued by an angel who carried him back to dry land.]
“Business operators spoke out and asked the Prime Minister and Ministers for the giant crab, so that we can survive and have power to go through this thunderstorm to our destination. However, from the mobile meeting, the Cabinet did not give us the crab, they verbally dismissed us, and gave our request to advisors,” he wrote.
“A full week passed. The story of the [mobile Cabinet] meeting in Phuket has gone, as well as our hope, as if it has never happened. Business operators have to keep swimming, take care of ourselves, and stop expecting either the giant crab or an angel to come. At this stage, the crab and the angel also have to take care of themselves,” he added.
Mr Bhummikitti explained that the recent visit by ambassadors and embassy representatives to Phuket last weekend was organised through local figures.
“We ignited the light of hope again by the support of the Phuket Government, Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Phuket City Municipality, the Peranakan Association of Thailand, and the Phuket Tourist Association,” he wrote.
“Even though foreign tourists have not been able to come, we are trying to attract expats to come to Phuket,” he added.
“We are creating our own giant crab without the hope for government assistance. Even though it was a little crab that we stand on just to catch our breath, it is much better than doing nothing,” he said plainly.
“The news of the vaccine seems to make the stock market healthier as well as our hopes, but it may take at least eight months to wait for the vaccine. Please be patient, my brothers and sisters,” Mr Bhummikitti noted.
“Remember, the man who has the authority of the economy said ‘Phuket is not Thailand’, I will see how far you can go on this way,” he concluded.
While the ambassadorial tour of Phuket last weekend received some heavy criticism online for being an ineffective endeavour, feedback received by The Phuket News noted that the visit was perceived as important mechanism for envoys to relay back to their home countries their opinions on the state of Phuket, and whether their home nationals should visit the island.
Dutch Ambassador Kees Rade noted, “[The] Tour was very useful to get information about the way Phuket is preparing itself for the return of tourism. What is important now is to provide good information to tourists about the travel procedures.
“It is not always clear if tourists are or are not welcome to approach Thai embassies abroad to request permission to travel to Thailand. More information would be essential,” he said.
As part of the tour the ambassadorial delegation was officially welcomed to Phuket at the Katathani resort, located in Kata, one of the hardest-hit areas without tourism.
“It was indeed striking to see the number of shops, restaurants and cafes closed because of the absence of business,” Ambassador Rade said.
“What is less visible, but equally important, is of course the informal sector that is also hard hit by the absence of business,” he also noted.
Immediately after arriving in Phuket, the delegation was shown the COVID-19 screening process at Phuket Airport. Asked if the demonstration inspired confidence in the processes shown, Ambassador Rade replied, “Yes, absolutely. The procedures are similar to the ones in Bangkok, with one or two differences. But the staff seemed well prepared and eager to get started!”
Ambassador Rade himself played down the tourism activities the delegation took part in as part of the tour, which also inspired some of the heavy criticism of the visit. Asked how important he believed it was to show that Phuket does have fun activities for tourists to do if they came to Phuket, Ambassador Rade said, “Yes, important, but I think that on average tourists are already aware of the many attractive sides of tourism on Phuket.”
Matthew Barclay, Australian Consul-General for Phuket also credited the “Ambassador’s Trip to Phuket 2020” as a positive move.
“I appreciated the opportunity to attend two elements on day one of the program (the Economic Forum and welcome dinner with Governor Narong),” Mr Barclay told The Phuket News.
“These elements of the program were a good opportunity to speak directly with Phuket authorities and tourism industry figures about the impact of the pandemic and planning for Phuket’s recovery.
“Clear information about current conditions and future plans is always appreciated. A highlight was in-depth discussions with experts regarding the process for applying for Certificates of Entry to enter Thailand and proposals to diversify Phuket’s hospitality sector in the years ahead,“ he added.