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Medical tourism can boost Phuket 2028 Expo hopes, says PM

Medical tourism can boost Phuket 2028 Expo hopes, says PM

PHUKET: The government is behind a major push to promote the country’s capabilities in the medical tourism sector as part of further efforts to boost Phuket’s candidacy to host the 2028 Specialized Expo.

By The Phuket News

Saturday 4 March 2023, 10:26AM

Photo: PR Phuket

Photo: PR Phuket

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha yesterday (Feb 3) ordered all relevant and associated government agencies to focus on the development of medical tourism as per a national directive that strives to see the provinces of Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga be recognised as international health centres by 2026.

This will help create valuable income for the country as a whole which will benefit its citizens nationally while supporting Phuket’s goal of hosting the major event in five years time. If successful, this would position the province as a true “Global Health Tourism City” which would have knock-on effects for the rest of the country, said Prayut.

His comments came after a high-level meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs head office in Bangkok on Jan 12 where officials decried Phuket “will show its potential to the world in a new dimension”, should the province be selected as the venue for the 2028 Expo.

However, not everyone supports the idea of Phuket hosting the event. Interior permanent secretary Suthipong Juljarern had previously suggested the province drop the idea to host such a prestigious occasion if it was unable to deal with its waste problem, an ongoing issue that has plagued the island for years.

His remark prompted all 19 tambon administrative organisations (TAOs) in Phuket and the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO) to submit an urgent letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Jan 4 to reiterate the province’s readiness to host the Specialised Expo 2028.

Further concerns have been aired about Phuket’s capacity to host such high numbers of tourists and visitors, something evident in recent months as huge numbers of Russian citizens have flocked to the island, many of whom are fleeing the situation in their homeland regarding the ongoing war with Ukraine following President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade the neighbouring country over a year ago.

Additionally, the number of Chinese visitors has started to pick up again after Beijing reversed its strict COVID-19 travel restriction policy and group tours from the country, often deriden as “zero-baht tourism”, was once again permitted.

CBRE Phuket

From Jan 1 through Feb 14, Phuket welcomed 24,451 Chinese passport holders arriving on international flights and passing immigration formalities at Phuket International Airport (those passing control in Bangkok and then proceding to Phuket are not included).

During the same period Russia provided 153,449 visits; India – 33,873; Kazakhstan – 33,756; UK – 24,987; Germany – 20,269; Australia – 20,051.

The challenge of dealing with such high numbers was no more evident than on Feb 25 when Immigration officers had to open all passport control counters at Phuket International Airport and speed up their work to the maximum after seven flights landed one after another on the island.

Add to the equation news that international flights to Phuket airport are expected to continue growing in numbers this month as more carriers get permissions to add the island to their networks of routes and the situation is only going to become more challenging. The official schedule, released earlier this week by the Phuket branch of the Airports of Thailand (AoT Phuket), lists 3,710 inbound and outbound flights by 52 carriers in March.

An announcement by the Meteorological Department yesterday that summer will officially arrive in Thailand tomorrow (Mar 5), with the temperature reaching 43 degrees Celsius at its highest, will surely only attract more tourist numbers to the island.

Whereas, of course, this is a much more welcome situation than the desperate times endured in recent years as COVID-19 decimated the island’s tourism sector, it does provide a warning that infrastructure and facilities on the island need to be beefed up ahead of any possibility of hosting a large-scale global event.

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CAPTCHA | 29 March 2023 - 00:26:40

Phuket may not be perfect.
But Expo Phuket 2028 will help Phuket if given a chance 

SEC2 | 04 March 2023 - 13:07:59

"Global Health Tourism City" ?? You can't get a bone scan or have robotic surgery in Phuket and if  you need a biopsy, it takes 7-10 days because it goes to Bangkok first.  I hear you can get a decent boob job and nose job in Phuket.  That's Global Health Tourism I'm sure. Why don't they spend the money fixing the roads, water and public transportation.  That would much m...


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