At the meeting, Kevin Lidureau of Seafarer Divers Phuket along with several other representatives from Phuket’s marine tour industry presented the detailed plan, called ‘Phuket Boating Andaman Seabox’, which aims to have local dive and other marine tour operators conduct sealed tour holidays for tourists coming to Phuket.
The plan, if approved, would allow tourists to land on Phuket and be safely escorted directly from the airport to an ALQ hotel for one night, where they will undergo an RT-PCR test, then board the boat to enjoy the first week of their holiday.
Under the project, the tourists will observe their two-day quarantine and five-day trips including two mandatory COVID tests conducted at an ALQ hotel before boarding the boat and upon disembarking the boat at the ALQ hotel, Mr Lidureau explained to The Phuket News today.
The plan has been drafted in much detail, and currently stands as a multi-page document in Thai.
Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panapong, who chaired the meeting yesterday, asked that the proposal be fine-tuned with TAT Phuket and Phuket Harbour Department; so it can be presented directly to high-level officials in Bangkok, Mr Lidureau said.
The plan has been well received, Mr Lidureau added, noting that a senior official from the Ministry of Tourism & Sports called him to thank him for the good job.
“At this stage they want to limit the tours within the confines of the ‘7+7’ scheme, so that the tourists spend their first night in a hotel on Phuket and return to spend their seventh night in Phuket so they can be tested [for COVID-19],” Mr Lidureau explained.
“They also want to limit the sea tours to three main areas,” he continued.
The first area is a ‘North route’ for diving and yachting to the Similan and Surin Island National Parks, he explained.
The second area is ‘Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi (Yachting)’, including the Phang Nga, Than Bok Khorami, Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta National Parks.
The third area is the ‘South route’ for diving and yachting at Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta National Parks.
“Right now tours to places like Koh Tarutao National Park are off the table unless they open the Sandbox and Seabox in Satun Province,” Mr Lidureau added.
The plan aims to bring much needed help to Phuket’s battered marine tourism industry.
“There are some 500 boats in Phuket that are affected,” Mr Lidureau noted.
“This project aims to help all of them, not just the dive industry. Private yacht charters and other boats serving tourists by taking them to enjoy the huge range of natural attractions in the area also stand to benefit, bringing much needed income to boat crews and local businesses,” he said.