Phuket Chamber of Commerce President Thanusak Phungdet and Phuket Tourist Association President Bhummikitti Ruktaengam together handed the formal request to Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew yesterday (Feb 10).
Present to witness the handing over of the formal request were representatives of 12 other business and trade associations, representing the Thailand Hotels Association Southern chapter, the Phuket Real Estate Association, the Patong Hotel Association, the Kata-Karon Hotel Association, Phuket City Development Co Ltd (PKCD), the Phuket Boutique Hotel Association, the Health & Wellness Phuket Spa Association, Andaman Guide Association, the Private Educational Association of Phuket and the Phuket Travel Agents Association.
Also present on behalf of the Phuket Provincial Government to receive the formal request were Phuket Vice Governors Phichet Panaphong and Piyapong Choowong.
Governor Narong said the formal request would be forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman.
The request was filed after the Department of Local Administration issued an order on Monday (Feb 8) to clarify that local administrations and private-sector organisations cannot currently purchase or distribute COVID-19 vaccines by themselves.
“In the first stage, only the central government can purchase, manage and distribute the vaccines under the vaccine management plan, in order to distribute to the targeted group of people and be able to follow up on their symptoms after being injected,” the order stated.
“Consequently, at this stage, we do not permit private sector and local administrations to directly purchase the vaccine from the producers,” it added.
“We want them to reconsider and allow Phuket local administrative organisations [municipalities and OrBorTor] and the private sector to be able to directly purchase COVID-19 vaccine from producers,” Mr Thanusak said.
“So that our tourism and economic situation will recover this year, as we plan to welcome foreign tourists in October under the project #PhuketFirstOctober,” he added.
Patong Municipality, Phuket City Municipality and Chalong Municipality last month all confirmed their intent to independently source COVID-19 vaccinations in order to vaccinate all people registered as living in their areas.
Leading representatives of key Phuket industry and trade organisations have together pushed for reopening Phuket to foriegn tourists come Oct 1 as a way to help restart the island’s economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism.
The plan relies on at least 70% of the island’s population being vaccinated for COVID-19.
Without any form of restarting the island’s economy, many more people are expected to see their incomes plunge below the poverty line.