Speaking at the daily COVID situation meeting led by Governor Narong Woonciew yesterday (Aug 11), Ms Nanthasiri noted that bookings had continued well for the first 10 days of August.
“It is a good sign. In only 10 days there are already bookings for more than 140,000 room nights. It is expected that if the COVID-19 outbreak can be controlled well this high season [Oct-Feb], the economy may grow,” she said.
Alluding to the killing of Phuket Sandbox tourist Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf, Ms Nanthasiri noted that “many situations occurred during the past week”.
However, she added that news of Ms Sauvain-Weisskopf’s death echoing around the world so far has had little effect on Sandbox bookings.
She said that following the “incident”, TAT Phuket contacted TAT branches in 29 countries around the world to assess the impact on tourists’ concerns, she noted.
“Initially, it has had no effect. This is consistent with the number of bookings that are still increasing. July closed with 190,000 room nights booked. As for this month [August], it has been a good start… Only 10 days in, total bookings reached 148,000 room nights. And the total number of people who have arrived under the Sandbox project since July 1 has reached a total of 19,166 people,” Ms Nanthasiri said.
Ms Nanthasiri highlighted the arrival of Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong as good news. “The flight brought another 150 long-haul tourists from Hong Kong, America, Canada, Germany and Belgium,” she said.
“But the concern is probably the number of daily infections in the country. This may affect the confidence of foreign tourists in travel decisions. Yesterday, the United States declared Thailand a Level 4 very high risk area, advising not to avoid travel to Thailand, but it is not yet a travel ban,” she said.
“The TAT has therefore accelerated public relations in the area of city marketing, separating Phuket from Thailand,” Ms Nanathasiri said.
“To point out that Phuket is ready to receive tourists under the Phuket Sandbox project, because the number of infected people we have is still under control,” she added.
“There are measures to take care of the safety of tourists. There is an emergency medical team of public health officers ready to take care of tourists. By trying to communicate these images, we will try to motivate, make ‘visual mark’ [sic], promote online business and provide updates to build confidence,” she continued.
Ms Nanthasairi pointed out that the US so far is the number one source market for tourists arriving under the Phuket Sandbox scheme. “The TAT has therefore communicated to TAT offices in the US and Canada to accelerate understanding [of the situation],” she said.
“The TAT is ready to move forward in marketing to promote Phuket tourism by July and August, with success in September considered as the target,” she added.
“We are in negotiations with various airlines that have replied that they are still flying to Phuket as planned There is also an additional airline that wants to fly in.
“During the month of October, which marks the beginning of the high season, there should be more tourists fleeing the cold coming in. This should have a positive effect on Phuket tourism, the Phuket Sandbox and the overall economy of the country,” Ms Nanthasiri concluded.