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Phuket Opinion: Not so fast

PHUKET: The first buses to start rolling into and out of Phuket this week marked more than just a milestone along the island’s road to recovery, the nature of the relaunch also showed very plainly how Phuket’s return to normal life will be a slow one.

Sunday 7 June 2020, 09:00AM


A queue of people waiting in the rain to receive food relief contributions in Patong stretches down the street on Friday (June 5). Screenshot: Feeding Friends Patong / Facebook

A queue of people waiting in the rain to receive food relief contributions in Patong stretches down the street on Friday (June 5). Screenshot: Feeding Friends Patong / Facebook

Services to most destinations previously served before the lockdown are now limited from one to a few a day, with buses to and from Bangkok not to start until tomorrow and Tuesday.

This is not only because of the lack of passengers, but also because operators need time to restart their businesses with whatever staff and finances they have left, and because the ‘new normal’ health guidelines affecting travel have literally halved the number of passengers each bus can carry.

Bus operators now have to rethink their entire bottom line and determine what remains viable. The same applies to hotels, restaurants and any other type of businesses on the island that are now allowed to reopen but one way or another depend on some form of tourism.

The only businesses that can restart basic operations are those still can afford to pay some staff and overheads for at least basic operations to begin with. Those who managed to save enough for this particular rainy day deserve credit. However, it is expected that many businesses will remain closed.

People have been screaming out loud for weeks for officials to reopen the beaches and the airport as a top priority to open the door for the island’s tourism industry to restart. As of now, Phuket’s beaches are set to reopen on Tuesday (June 9) and all noises so far indicate that the airport will reopen to domestic flights come June 16.

QSI International School Phuket

It is easy to argue that any tourists arriving would be better than none, yet even if officials reopened the beaches two weeks ago it would have been for the benefit of only people already on the island. Likewise, the airport could have been reopened two weeks ago and how many actual tourists would have arrived? Even if the central government sticks to its current ‘best scenario’ plan to reopen the country to inbound commercial passenger flights after June 30, how many tourists will come?

Please do not misundertsand this point: Businesses and tourist attractions must be allowed to reopen as soon as practicably and safely as possible. The sooner the long-term recovery is allowed to get underway, the better. But this pandemic has hit economies hard worldwide. It will take time for people to have enough money to travel, nevermind Phuket being ready to serve them. We are a long way from getting out of this hole.

Right now government support for businesses is just as critical for helping the economy get back on its feet as it is for helping those without work and deprived of any form of income – and for lightening the burden on the plethora of food relief efforts that are rightly so still underway across the island. Many people have lost their jobs, and those lucky enough to have returned to work in the past few weeks are very unlikely to be on full pay, and will have to wait for that vital first post-lockdown paycheck.

Whether or not people agree with any of the lockdown restrictions rolled out, and now being rolled back, the restrictions in Thailand are being lifted relatively much faster than many other places in the world that also were put under lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But even at the current pace of returning life to ‘normal’, until economies elsewhere also start to recover, the top priority here and now must be relief efforts, for businesses already under great pressure and for the basic rights of food security. That is where we are right now.

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maverick | 07 June 2020 - 17:48:01

Not sure where the Chinese hating comes from most of the wealthy Thais who control  big business here are part Chinese 

ericphuket | 07 June 2020 - 16:42:32

Fully agree lalala, time these political puppets stop telling BS to the people.
Every war needs sacrifices  one dead is of course one to much. But lets fight this war.In history there where more pandemics.
The way they fight the covid measures will be worser than covid itself. 
Open the countries and their borders before more people become jobless,hungry,have no money and take the streets.  

DeKaaskopp | 07 June 2020 - 15:38:10

"....because this members of the gang hate farang and chinese too"  And obviously one of those farang love Sangsom .Lots of Sangsom !

maverick | 07 June 2020 - 15:04:35

Lalala@ correct it’s a massive scam everyone who has died in the last 3 months has Covid if you believe the stats it disproportionately kills the elderly check Alex Berenson book that Bezos and establishment tried to ban - the truth will come out 

LALALA | 07 June 2020 - 13:25:20

...proofed already all around the world - this virus is not much more dangerous like the flue. 

LALALA | 07 June 2020 - 13:22:41

Kurt... all this figure are BS... France for example had counted also suspected cases and some days ago took 30K cases from the overall tally, the US is counting everybody even if not confirmed, Kazakhstan is not counting asymptomatic cases anymore.... etc. etc., its a complete mess, fact is that if the assumption is correct that there are millions of undetected cases - which several studies .....

ThorFinger | 07 June 2020 - 12:45:50

We must have a plan and business; not government needs to get ready. It is in businesses best interests to protect Thailand and tourists and minimise the risks from further outbreaks. 

ThorFinger | 07 June 2020 - 12:43:10

And don't forget, like most countries, we haven't beaten the virus, we've run away and hidden.  The second, third etc waves will only hit those countries that chose to hide.
Don't tell us about 'the new normal', what a load of rubbish. Someone explain to business what plans we have to isolate outbreaks, because going into lockdown again will bankrupt us all!

ThorFinger | 07 June 2020 - 12:39:00

Well written. I must point out however that it is ALL about business confidence to be ready to roll when tourists do arrive. Ridiculous measures that have little logic and less science is the closed beaches and the face masks. People around the world need to know we're ready for them. 

harald | 07 June 2020 - 12:17:00

first the gang in bangkok have destroyed the tourism because of flu and now trying to restore tourism with a extortinate contract with countrys tourists come from had to sign first. for me is quit clear, the gang don´t like tourism because this members of the gang hate farang and chinese too  

Kurt | 07 June 2020 - 11:20:41

Number of corona patients grows worldwide faster than ever. The last 2 days 250,000 new cases! According WHO-OMT  (Outbreak management Team), and non profit organisation 'Our World in Data'. As long thai are returning from foreign countries infected, that long no tourists from these countries to Thailand.

maverick | 07 June 2020 - 11:04:02

Hermann1@ unfortunately Phuket does not get to keep the taxes it raises they all go to BKK who dole it out as they see fit so Phuket effectively subsidizes the rest of the country.

Hermann1 | 07 June 2020 - 09:57:37

As always a fine piece of opinion from the PhuketNews. Looking at the picture it is unbelievable that the government in rich Phuket province with their overflown money coffers cannot take care their inhabitants. Basic rights for food are provided by foreigners and private thais.

LALALA | 07 June 2020 - 09:35:39

As long as you need to wear a face mask at the beach, need to use tracking apps, have covid 19 insurance and need to go in 14 day quarantine once you arrive in LOS nobody no international tourist will come anyway even if international flights would be available and the domestic market is suffering from unemployment....ALL measures are useless until ALL restrictions are falling.

 

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