PR Phuket announced the plan in a post on its official Facebook page today (June 19), saying that “reporters” had explained basic details of the project.
However, The Phuket News had previously confirmed from a source that the concept was discussed on June 4 at a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall attended by 16 consuls and honorary consuls in Phuket, but was unable to obtain any official confirmation of the project.
The PR Phuket report noted that the project was proposed by “Former Governor of Phuket” Phakaphong Tavipatana, along with Dr Chalermpong Sukhonthaphon, Director of Vachira Phuket Hospital, and Dr Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO) and “various sectors”, which were not identified.
Phuket’s new Governor, Narong Woonciew, who was serving as Governor of Chaiyaphum province, arrived in Phuket today (June 19).
The plan is to build the medical centre on state land near the That Chatchai Police Station, said the report. The site is likely to be the same area where the “international convention and exhibitions centre”, dubbed “ICEC”, was proposed more than 10 years ago.
The project is being proposed as a way of attracting more tourists to the island by “developing international medical and public health services to create safety and value-added tourism, and in line with the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2017-2021), “which places emphasis on the direction of development aimed at transitioning from a middle-income country to a high-income country with stability and a happy society”.
The report also noted that the site would reduce the distance needed to be travelled by visitors to Phuket, thus reducing risk of transmission of COVID-19, in line with “new normal” requirements to help prevent the spread of the disease.
“The project has the objective to develop Phuket as a centre for high-priced medical services connected with international tourism. The centre, as an ‘International Medical Hub in a world-class destination’, would enhance the readiness of medical infrastructure technology and medical services to support the treatment of important communicable diseases, emerging diseases, recurrent diseases, tropical diseases as well as serves as a quarantine centre for dangerous communicable diseases in accordance with international health and hygiene laws and research products on infectious diseases and diseases with significant problems,” the report said.
The project would also “provide long-term employment for people in the area and create investment opportunities in response to changes that lead to new normal, as well as to revitalize the economy by promoting health products and products linked to tourism or other service sectors,” the report added.
“If supported by a government budget, it will be both a selling point and strength of healthy tourism in Thailand and Phuket, which will draw quality tourists from around the world to Phuket,” the report noted.