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Phuket get ready, says Governor

PHUKET: Officials across Phuket have been told to prepare the island to welcome foreign tourists from Nov 1, in line with the expected reopening of the country to receive vaccinated tourists without quarantine from up to 10 low-risk countries, and to make sure that their respective areas are clean and to make sure that tourists are not ripped off or are treated in any other deceitful way.

By The Phuket News

Wednesday 20 October 2021, 11:53AM

Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew delivered the message to local heads of government offices at a full meeting held at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday (Oct 19).

Alongside the governor to deliver the message were Phuket Vice Governors Pichet Panapong and Piyapong Choowong, and Rewat Areerob, President of Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor).

Governor Narong said that the meeting was held to prepare for the opening of the area to accommodate tourists, and for officers to follow up on the critical tourist services, such as transportation.

He cited land transport via vans, tuk-tuks, taxis and buses, and facilities and services available at the airport, “that must have service standards and fair prices that do not take advantage of tourists”.

“We must also monitor the availability of water transportation, which must be safe and adhere to standards, and make sure we provide lifeguards to take care of the beaches,” he said.

“Local government officers are to prepare their areas in terms of cleanliness and orderliness, and road safety, as well as availability of health and disease treatment, to ensure the safety of life and property of tourists, including them not being deceived,” he added.

Governor Narong also called on all relevant officers to ensure that immigration formalities were known by tourists and adhered to, and for relevant people, including local business owners, to ensure that the mandated guidelines were followed for providing services, such operating as hotels and entertainment venues, according to the law “and good morals”.

“Overall, most of Phuket province is ready to receive tourists in all aspects due to the Phuket Sandbox pilot project, which can be expanded in terms of supporting the opening of the city [sic] on November 1st,” he said.

“The province [provincial government] has assigned each agency to proceed in accordance with the prescribed measures and find solutions to further problems and obstacles in order to continue to meet the targeted visitor exposure,” he added.

The move follows Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday last week announcing that the country will move ahead with receiving vaccinated tourists without requiring any quarantine measures to be observed from selected low-risk countries from Nov 1.

The reopening comes as the Phuket Sandbox has brought little success in luring foreign tourists to Thailand.

According to the Phuket Sandbox Report for yesterday (Oct 19), issued by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) itself, the Sandbox scheme has so far brought 51,748 foreign tourists to Phuket since its launch on July 1.

However, the TAT report does not differentiate how many of those “international tourists” were foreigners already with businesses and/or wives and families in Thailand, or even how many were Thais.

In direct response to being asked the top 10 demographics of Sandbox arrivals yesterday, the “Phuket COVID-19 & Phuket Sandbox Official Information Center” operated by the Phuket office of the Ministry of Interior, posted online a cropped image of a report showing Thais as the top demographic of Sandbox arrivals, followed by Americans, Israeli nationals, British, German, French, Swiss, Dutch, Russian and Japanese respectively.

The 51,748 foreign tourists who have arrived under the Phuket Sandbox scheme is little over half the revised expected figure presented by national tourism figures before the scheme’s launch.

On June 28, just three days before the Sandbox scheme was launched, TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn explained that the TAT had revised its estimates to expect 100,000 foreign tourist arrivals during the third quarter this year, down 29,000 on estimates given one week earlier.

The 100,000 foreign tourists were expected to generate B8.9 billion for the Thai economy, Mr Yuthasak said at the time.

According to Phuket Immigration, as of Monday (Oct 18), only 4,392 foreigners who arrived under the Phuket Sandbox scheme were still on the island.

The order to prepare the island for foreign tourists also follows the reopening of Phuket to receiving vaccinated domestic visitors without COVID tests from last Saturday (Oct 16).

That same day, coincidentally World Food Day, thousands of people across Phuket queued up to receive food as global food security organisation Scholars of Sustenance handed out 10,000 meals to people in need at nine locations across the island.

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