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Phuket Opinion: Giving July 1 a reality check

Phuket Opinion: Giving July 1 a reality check

PHUKET: The Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) approving the ‘Phuket Tourism Sandbox’ model for reopening the island to international tourists has been greeted with a collective sigh of relief. The announcement has brought hope, but there are many factors to overcome before people across the island will see any real sign of recovery from financial hardship they are currently suffering.

opinionCOVID-19Coronaviruseconomicstourism
By The Phuket News

Sunday 28 March 2021, 09:00AM


Staff from 5 Star Marine make another ‘bag drop’ of 2,000 Life Bags last weekend as part of the ongoing efforts to provide food relief coordinated by the One Phuket campaign. Photo: One Phuket

Staff from 5 Star Marine make another ‘bag drop’ of 2,000 Life Bags last weekend as part of the ongoing efforts to provide food relief coordinated by the One Phuket campaign. Photo: One Phuket

To repeat Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn’s explanation on Friday (Mar 26), the lifting of the quarantine requirement will be a step-down process, and will apply to vaccinated tourists only.

From next Thursday (Apr 1), the quarantine period for vaccinated tourists will be only seven days.

After that, from July 1, vaccinated tourists will not have to observe any mandatory quarantine on three provisos: at least 70% of the island’s resident population is vaccinated; tourists undergo swab tests on arrival, and tourists have the ThailandPlus tracking app installed on their phones during their stay here.

Even if the vaccination campaign manages to inoculate 70% of residents on the island against COVID-19 by July 1, Federation of Phuket Industries President Chernporn Karnjanasaya on Wednesday delivered a clear, realistic perspective of the expected impact of the quarantine easing, explaining that she believes the July 1 deadline was more likely to mark a “soft opening” of tourism for the island.

“I think the opening in July will be like a soft-opening to encourage us to work on preparation. We may need to start by setting sealed areas, so we can review the strength and the weakness of our plan,” Ms Chernporn said.

TAT Governor Yuthasak on Friday even gave a mild projection for the early stages of the reopening. “We expect about 100,000 tourists to visit Phuket in the second quarter [Apr-June], and more tourists thereafter,” he said.

That is a far cry from pre-COVID levels. According to Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Thailand is expected to return to the pre-pandemic level of international arrivals of almost 40 million in five years, with a great number of foreign arrivals in 2023 once the country opens to more international tourists as the pandemic spread eases.

Internal - Phuket Live Radio 89.5

Foreign tourist arrivals reached 6.7 million last year, generating revenue of about B300 billion, compared with almost 40 million arrivals in 2019 generating revenue of almost B2 trillion.

With leading tourism industry figures from the private sector and tourism officials finally admitting how protracted the recovery will be in reality, the fanfare of the July 1 announcements over the past two weeks can be better understood.

Some relief will come to businesses and the people they hire in the coming months, but it will be a long, slow road to recovery.

Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) President Rewat Areerob this week revealed that 14,500 residents on the island had registered to receive help from the PPAO through its campaign to provide assistance to those left without any income during the current economic crisis.

Not only were the registrants out of work, they did not have enough money to pay basic living expenses, Mr Rewat noted.

Until the benefits of having some tourists on the island start to reach those who need help the most, food relief efforts by the likes of One Phuket will remain crucial for thousands of people across the island.

As it was pointed out earlier this week, a donation of just B160 funds a Life Bag that feeds a family of four for five days. Let that sink in.

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Welsh John | 30 March 2021 - 16:52:59

I wonder if TAT have told the airlines yet! I assume they need to plan flights in advance and what form of proof do they need regarding vaccination? Nobody has come up with a vaccine passport/travel document yet. 

Kurt | 29 March 2021 - 09:04:22

I actually miss to see reality checks in Thailand. It is all hiding and wrapping up money making goals with false explanations. It starts already with very, very limiting testing of thai population. That 'sealed areas' is one of the nonsense things as long Thai in these areas are not vaccinated.

Hopeful | 28 March 2021 - 19:35:53

Guys, data published on sinovac from Turkey and Brazil indicates a much efficay of 83%.    Thailand biggest issue is the lack of mass testing so in truth nobody actually knows the real number of cases or deaths and how widespread the disease is.  For sure it didn't stop at the Myanmar or Malaysian border and decide not to enter Thailand... Same as China, government  forbids publication of data

Galong | 28 March 2021 - 19:03:44

Neither me (over 65 resident) nor my wife have seen an opportunity to get a vaccine. This is some 'cart before the horse' poo. If we locals aren't protected, don't invite outsiders.  We're in the tourism business, but we understand the difference between short-term profit vs long-term health/safety issues.  I wonder what the authorities will come up with next week.

Kurt | 28 March 2021 - 10:35:39

Expecting 100,000 during April-June, and more tourists thereafter? Wow, it will become very crowded in  proposed 'sealed areas' if tourists are really coming. Better have all locals in these areas vaccinated first. Remember, vaccinated tourists still can transfer Covid-19 virus!

 

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