The new estimates were announced at a meeting at the ‘EOC Command Center’ on Friday (June 25) joined by Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow and Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
According to an official report of the meeting, TAT Governor Yuthasak explained that the TAT now expects 100,000 foreign tourist arrivals during the third quarter this year, down 29,000 on estimates given as recently as last week.
The 100,000 foreign tourists are expected to generate B8.9 billion for the Thai economy, Mr Yuthasak said.
However, he added that Thai domestic tourists were still expected to play a major part in restarting Phuket’s tourism industry, with 548,000 “person-visits” expected during the quarter, generating an approximately B5.51bn in revenue for the economy.
Of note, with the TAT now recognising “person-visits” and not expressly domestic tourists, the expected number of domestic arrivals appears to now include people who travel to Phuket not just solely for tourism, and now shows an increase from the 500,000 expected domestic tourist arrivals during the third quarter just over a week ago.
Also joining the meeting on Friday were Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa, Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn and Chatchai Phromlert, Permanent Secretary of the Interior.
Representing Phuket at the meeting were, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew and all three Phuket Vice Governors, Pichet Panapong, Piyapong Choowong and Vikrom Jakthee, along with a host of leading local officials and tourism industry figures.
“Phuket Sandbox is an important policy of the government that chose Phuket as the country’s pioneering tourism operation area, which Phuket is determined to prepare for the goal of opening the island on July 1 despite having to pass a very difficult test,” Governor Narong said.
“At the moment, preparations have been made to cover all aspects, which requires the integrated management of all sectors, including agencies according to the function of the authority and the area, so that the economy of Phuket can be restored while effectively controlling the spread COVID-19,” he added.
A representative of the Ministry of Public Health at the meeting said the ministry was addressing public health goals, including controlling morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 and controlling cluster outbreaks, especially from variants, and creating a balance in medicine, public health, society and the economy to drive continuously and sustainably, said the official report.
In terms of the island’s tourism sector being prepared to receive foreign tourists, the meeting was told that local operators are ready to open the pilot tourism area, the report added.
Currently, there are 440 business operators in Phuket that have been certified as SHA Plus, including 300 hotel/accommodation operators. Other operators including convention centres, spas and golf courses, have also been approved as SHA Plus compliant, the meeting was told.
An estimated 20% of existing tourism businesses are reopening, creating a minimum initial employment of 20,000 people, noted the report.
Jatuporn Burusphat, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, highlighted the progress in making sure natural resource attractions in Phuket meet SHA Plus standards, including Sirinath National Park.
Other natural tourist attractions such as the Khao Phra Thaeo Non-Hunting Area and the Khao Toh Sae National Forest Reserve in Thalang, as well as Phuket Aquarium, were also making preparations to be certified SHA Plus, as well as other tourist attractions in the National Reserved Forests and Community Forests
Local people and communities were being involved in the process by emphasising the need for proper management of waste and the environment for tourists, Mr Jatuporn said.