“I explained to the Tourism Committee President Surasak Phanchalernworakul about the situation and how coronavirus is affecting tourism and business in Phuket,” Phuket Chamber of Commerce President Thanusak Phungdet confirmed to The Phuket News yesterday (Feb 21).
“I requested them to share this information with the Prime Minister and other relevant officers in Parliament. The situation is much worse than the government knows,” he added.
Mr Thanusak confirmed he met yesterday with Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee on Tourism and Phuket MP Nattee Thinsakhu, Thai Hotels Association Vice President Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, Phuket Tourism Council President Sarayut Mallam and other tourism industry representatives from Phuket to try to find a solution to the problem.
“The Phuket private sector has been massively impacted by COVID-19,” commented Mr Thanusak. “I’m not sure if the Government are aware of the situation as they have not yet visited to see the problems first hand.
“It has drastically affected tourism-related businesses. Many staff have been forced to take a cut in salary although the cost of living cost here remains the same. If this situation lasts six to 10 months, Phuket may well become an empty island.
“Recently, there are hardly any Chinese tourists. As a result, more than 20 hotels have already temporarily closed. Many boats and buses are not being used, parked empty. At this time, we have only 50% of the usual number of European tourists, and it will go down to around 30% next month, and possibly continue to decrease to zero.
“This situation is out of the hands of the private sector and local administrative officers,” he said.
“We want government support for the tourism sector here, to help unemployed staff and to attract Thai people to come to Phuket in order to support local business and help everyone.
Mr Thanusak stated he has requested help from the Minister of Tourism and wants quick resolutions to safeguard Phuket’s standing as the second-highest income generating province in the country.
“It is worrying that the Government did not know the real impact of this bad situation,” he said.
“Government have not yet come to Phuket. It may be because nobody sent information about COVID-19 and its impact. Governors have to see the truth and listen to people’s complains,” Mr Thanusak concluded.