Speaking at the official opening of the Phuket Passport Office now located at Central Festival Phuket last night (Nov 2), Deputy PM Don told The Phuket News that Phuket’s tourism industry remained the island’s fastest track to recovery, but strongly noted that other key sectors should also be developed to broaden Phuket’s economic base.
Mr Don said that he did not expect the mass tourism to return from the Chinese market, or any other market, for some time.
“For the Chinese, they have to check the readiness of both their country and the target country. However, they will focus on their country first as a priority. I don’t think big groups of Chinese will come, as they have to implement their own measures in their country first and then confirm the readiness in the target countries, especially safety, environment, and other things that they can enjoy and spend time with,” he said.
“Actually this applies not only to the Chinese, but also other nationalities as well. After the pandemic, tourists will pay much attention to health. After passing through this year, they can see the importance of health. After this, the interest in health will be very high. People will focus on longer lives as a priority while disease-prevention measures have now become a normality. People look for ways to strengthen their immunity, which can make their lives better. The word ‘longevity’ will gain much more attention from scientists,” Deputy PM Don said.
Thailand was at the forefront of countries approving visas for foreigners to stimulate tourism, Mr Don said.
“For visa approval, we will do that for sure. Thailand is a country that foreigners can enter quite easily. We are friends with many countries,” he said.
“However, it is quite difficult for us to enter other countries. When we can make it visa-free for Thai people to enter a country, we accomplish our goals. We have to work together,” he added.
“I’m confident that Phuket has very high potential [in tourism], as we know. But even though there is high potential, we can develop much more, not only tourism. For example, we want Phuket to be a MICE hub,” he said.
“For education, Phuket has a very good educational system for tourism and hospitality studies. For health and wellness tourism, it could be related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thailand has a good reputation for health services. However, the services need good infrastructure,” Deputy PM Don explained.
A policy shift to focus more quality was also underway, Mr Don said.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs [MFA] measures for post-COVID-19 will focus on quality as a priority. Everything we will do will focus on quality. We are in the new global competition. If we do not work hard and develop our people, we will be sidelined from achieving our goals. Our human resources, not only that of the MFA, but everyone, must all keep developing,” Mr Don urged.
“I want to focus more on how long we [Thailand] keep our good reputation when we enter the post COVID-19 era. I think that if we can work together, our reputation will remain strong.
“Everything we do right now is to switch from crisis to good opportunity. To keep seeking golden opportunities.
“Phuket is a main province of the south, while other provinces are also trying to claim that position. We have to see how sustainable each province’s government can manage their resources. Then, in doing anything, we have to focus on quality as a priority,” Mr Don concluded.