In a live interview yesterday (May 5), Mr Preechavude pointed out that the COVID-19 situation has left the usually busy streets of Patong empty, and the forced shut down of businesses has left many people without work.
The first and most important aid needed was to help people who do not even have enough money to feed them themselves, Mr Preechavude said.
“The government needs to survey how many people are in which areas, and this is for the whole of the country,” he said.
“Once we have clear information, the government and the private sector can work together to get help to those who need it,” he added.
Mr Peechavude also called for the urgent deployment of soft loans for businesses, especially those operating in the tourism sector.
“The loans provided would help the people first. They will no longer be unemployed,” he said.
However, Mr Preechavude branded the volume of funds being made available as government loans as “too small”.
“In total the amount needed [for the whole country] needs more than B5-10 trillion, equal to the size of GDP, because we are in this very deep,” he said.
“Tourism will take six months to a year to recover. During this time the government has to expend a lot of money in order to develop people so that we do not lose skilled workers, and if possible we have to do another type of marketing [to develop tourism].
“Simply put, if you have a cheap soft loan, you can do business. There are options, soft loans can have no repayments for three months, six months to a year, but once there are soft loans available they will help to reduce unemployment.
Mr Preechavude also called for a skills development project for the tourism sector, so that when tourism does eventually resume, workers will be upskilled to cater to tourists, making the workers more valuable employees and making Phuket more attractive to tourists.
“Of course, people cannot travel at this time and airlines cannot resume [international] flights, and we need to manage the COVID situation, but we can use this time to improve skills so that we are ready when the market does return,” Mr Preechavude explained.
“We must be prepared, and we can train here to be among the best. It can be a new platform that both the public and private sectors can do together. We can develop our human resources to accommodate the changes in COVID-19 will bring, and hoteliers can use this time to develop their rooms as well,” he concluded.