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Phuket tourism industry calls to end quarantine for Bangkok arrivals, pitches plan to revive tourism by October

Phuket tourism industry calls to end quarantine for Bangkok arrivals, pitches plan to revive tourism by October

PHUKET: Leading representatives from Phuket’s devastated tourism industry have called for the Phuket provincial government to end the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people arriving from specific districts in Bangkok in the hope of throwing local businesses a lifeline until international tourists return.

By The Phuket News

Saturday 23 January 2021, 11:56AM

Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew recognised the need for urgent action. Photo: PR Phuket

Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew recognised the need for urgent action. Photo: PR Phuket

The high-powered delegation also called for the Phuket provincial government to prepare to start receiving international tourists from October, ahead of what would normally be Phuket’s tourism high season, under a plan that would require all international arrivals to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before being allowed to enter Phuket.

By that time, the 70% of the population on Phuket is to be vaccinated for the disease.

The delegation delivered their plea at a special meeting held at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday (Jan 22), chaired by Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew.

Among the key tourism industry representatives present to deliver the plea were Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, President of Phuket Tourist Association; Sarayuth Mallum, President of the Phuket Industry Council; Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, President of the Thailand Hotels Association Southern chapter; Thanusak Pungdej, President of the Phuket Chamber of Commerce; and Anchalee Thepabutra, well-known businesswoman and former Phuket MP.

Governor Narong noted that the meeting was a collaboration to discuss ways to stimulate tourism in Phuket “that is seriously stagnating from the second wave of COVID-19”.

“Phuket has been hit hard by the second epidemic. Thai tourists do not come because they do not want to quarantine and follow the difficult steps to enter the province, not to mention there are no foreign tourists at this time,” he said.

“We expect foreigners to start coming to Phuket at the end of the year, so for now we have to rely on Thai people together,” he admitted.

Delivering the tourism-revival plan was PTA President Mr Bhummikitti, who said the COVID-19 vaccine was “the last ticket and the last hope” for Phuket tourism, “because Phuket tourism has no way out at this time”.

“Thai people are unable to travel due to the second outbreak, and foreign tourists are not to be mentioned at all. Vaccines are the hope of the Phuket tourism sector,” he said.

“In order to revive the tourism industry, the private sector in Phuket has come together to discuss and think about ways to promote and bring people to Phuket.

“The vaccine is now available in many countries that can be the focus of Phuket’s next travel model for foreign tourists. The private sector sees the possibility of opening to receive foreign tourists in October and through the high season at the end of the year,” Mr Bhummikitti said.

“In October is Chinese National Day. As you know, the Chinese authorities now allow Chinese people to travel to safe cities. We expect that Chinese people will travel here for sure if they believe that we are safe,” he added.

However, Mr Bhummikitti also called for strong measures to protect Phuket people from infection from foriegn visitors.

“Tourists entering Phuket must be people who have been vaccinated with the COVID vaccine, and Phuket people must be vaccinated, at least 70% of the population,” he said.

“This is to ensure the confidence of both Phuket residents and the tourists who visit, that they [the tourists] will not be infected by people in Phuket and the Phuket people will be confident that incoming tourists will not bring the disease to spread again,” he added.

“The private sector wants to get clarity from the government whether we can follow this plan or not, because if it is left like this – open, close, lockdown and so on, as in the past – local businesses are all dead.

“And we would like to have clarity soon in order to be able to market [tourists coming to Phuket] at least two to three months [before October],” he added.

Mr Bhummikitti pointed out that the government had promised to work with local industry on all matters related to COVID-19 and keeping the local economy alive.

“in Phuket, we have not had any infections for a long time. Schools are allowed to re-open and many measures in Bangkok are being relaxed.

“Therefore, we would like Phuket Province to consider canceling the 14-day quarantine for people traveling from Bangkok, but keep [the quarantine] for eight provinces that are high-risk areas, so that people in Bangkok and other Thai people can start traveling to Phuket again during this Chinese New Year [Feb 12],” he said.

The move would “allow tourism and the Phuket economy to be able to walk once more from having fewer Thai tourists”, he added.

Governor Narong pointed out, “In order to ensure tourists that Phuket citizens as well as incoming tourists are safe from the COVID-19 virus, there will be a tracking system, and a fund established to be used as a remedy [sic] to help those affected if there is an infection from incoming tourists.”

“The vaccine provided to the people of Phuket will be provided by the government, through local government procurement and from private procurement once the government has given the green light to allow purchasing,” Governor Narong added.

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H2538 | 24 January 2021 - 21:15:14

Kurt. You are right. Its already banked. Check the other Phuket news here probably not allowed!

Foot | 24 January 2021 - 14:30:32

@maverick.  I didn't read in this story about localities doing it themselves.  
I guess you aren't concerned about Kathu and other areas in Phuket Province.
So, how useful is your comment?

Kurt | 24 January 2021 - 10:24:56

...And pay 50% Q-costs. Try this out 4 weeks February, including Chinese NY. ASQL hotels not think about profits, should be subsidized by Government. If tourists come, it works out for airlines, airport, public transport, restaurants, shops. Try to see the total overall picture. Give it a try.

Kurt | 24 January 2021 - 10:09:45

Just red in BP that Phuket considers to ease restrictions for BKK and Samut Prakan. That are worse effected areas in Thailand! Huh?? I am not surprised by this Thai unlogic thinking. But than can open up for less effected provinces as well, right?  And Phuket should consider to limit quarantine for arriving international tourists to 7 days only. And pay 50%  Q-costs. Just try that out.

mgb | 24 January 2021 - 09:26:58

All people living in Phuket will have had to have had vaccine. Not the second rate Chinese one.  If not then putting profit before life will be the message to the world.

ThorFinger | 23 January 2021 - 22:36:21

October?? October?? There won't be anything left open in Phuket by October!! People here still think that anyone will die if they get covid. Somebody please explain that only a small percentage of the population could die.

maverick | 23 January 2021 - 15:53:03

@foot the districts that have spoken out on the subject Patong, Chalong, and Phuket Town have stated all residents regardless of nationality would be vaccinated - so unhelpful comments 

Kurt | 23 January 2021 - 15:07:48

The  explanation/expectation of how this year Covid-19 wise will work out for Phuket is a 'lose sand discussion'. Nothing substantial/concrete. Cancelling 14 days Phuket quarantine for Chinese New Year? What reality thinking is that? By than no single phuketian will be vaccinated.  Welcome the next Covid-19 wave! For what? Just for money dreaming, but at the end a lot of money lost only. 

Foot | 23 January 2021 - 14:59:30

"By that time, the 70% of the population on Phuket is to be vaccinated for the disease."
I guess this means Thais will be OK, but, all falangs, Burmese, Laotians, etc will be vulnerable to have and spread COVID.

maverick | 23 January 2021 - 13:26:45

Greed ahead of common sense why would Phuket allow tourism from the anywhere north of Chumpon when daily infections are 200+ keep the virus out until cases are single figure 


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