Mr Thanusak along with Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew were in Bangkok on Monday to attend a meeting led by Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, after which Minister Phiphat announced the new “beach tourists campaign", Mr Thanusak explained.
Also joining the meeting were Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Dr Chalermpong Sukontapol and business representatives from the island, he added.
“Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat told us that we must be ready to host beach holidays. Phuket is one of five island destinations in Thailand chosen to launch the campaign,” Mr Thanusak explained.
“Thailand will open for foreign tourists to come to the country in August,” he added.
“This is earlier than the previous plans, which would not restart inbound tourism until September or October,” he noted.
Mr Phipat understood the importance of tourism for Phuket, Mr Thanusak assured.
“By Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Phuket relies on tourism for revenues than any other industry,” he said.
However, Mr Thanusak remains reserved about his expectations for tourism to restart as early as next month, and maintains that domestic tourism will return first.
“I expect that people will only start coming to Phuket when the government starts distributing its subsidised travel scheme,” he said.
The push for Phuket to prepare for international tourists comes as the ban on all inbound international commercial passenger flights expired at midnight last night, with six groups of foreigners allowed to enter Thailand as of today (July 1).
However, Phuket International Airport General Manager Thanee Chuangchoo told The Phuket News that so far there has been no expression of interest from airlines resuming international flights to Phuket.
“Zero airlines have booked slots for international flights to land in Phuket,” he said.
“I think they will come later, and this all depends on the central government’s decisions,” he added.
Mr Thanusak and Governor Narong also presented the proposal to build a public-private medical tourism facility at the far northern tip of the island.
The proposal was also presented to Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who also serves as the Public Health Minister, at a separate meeting.
“Both Mr Anutin and Mr Phiphat liked the idea and accepted the proposal for further consideration.” Mr Thanusak said.