The Phuket Tourism Fair opened at the Siam Paragon Hall on Thursday (July 30) and will continue through tomorrow (Aug 2).
The event is designed to promote, support and rehabilitate tourism in Phuket, and is being organised by the Phuket Tourist Association with the support of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) in partnership with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
As part of the government’s stimulus measures for domestic tourism, the event will provide an opportunity for Phuket tour operators affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to promote their products and services to potential Thai and expatriate domestic tourists at special prices. It is expected that the business generated will help boost the economy of Phuket over the rest of this year, said a report by the TAT.
Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, President of Phuket Tourist Association, said the province has been able to effectively control the virus, as a result of which the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) had relaxed the lockdown and approved the opening of Phuket International Airport for domestic flights since mid-June 2020.
Today, Phuket airport receives flights from five domestic airlines with 12 daily flights from Bangkok, Koh Samui, Chiang Rai and U-Tapao. Additional flights from other destinations such as Udon Thani and Chiang Mai are expected to start shortly, the TAT noted in its report.
In 2019, Phuket received a total of 14.4 million tourists, comprising 10mn foreign tourists and 4mn Thais, together generating some B480 billion in revenues for the island, the TAT report said.
“The Phuket Tourist Association has worked with various private organisations and government agencies to help thousands of tourism-related entrepreneurs affected by the pandemic. These measures are designed to help them survive until the situation returns to normal, which is not expected until mid-2021 at the earliest,” the report said.
The Phuket Tourism Fair is one of many strategies formulated by the association to collaborate with all sectors in creating business opportunities, it added.
Under the concept “Seven Tricks … Phuket Only”, the event will highlight numerous events and activities to be held in Phuket between August – December 2020.
Phuket tourism operators have also signed up for the health and hygiene certification scheme known as the Safety Health Administration (SHA) formulated by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports in collaboration with the TAT and the Ministry of Public Health. Currently, more than 350 tour operators have received the SHA logo, the second highest number after Bangkok, the report noted.
Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew said the pandemic had severely affected the tourism industry in Thailand and caused significant economic damage to the economy of Phuket, which depends on tourism as its main source of income.
It is estimated that in the first half of this year, the Phuket tourism businesses suffered a loss of more than B160bn, impacting many thousands of jobs, he said.
Short-term tourism rehabilitation plans are now imperative to stimulate domestic tourism and support a recovery. The Phuket Tourism Expo is the first step in this plan. Future projects include a “Phuket Tastival Seafood & Gastronomy” (Roi Rim Lae Festival) from August to September, which will connect cuisine, culture and tourism, the TAT also noted in its report.
Phuket will come alive with festivities organised weekly on each beach in Phuket, as well as at Saphan Hin Bridge, Rawai, Patong, Chalong Bay, Phuket Old Town and Cherng Talay, it added.
On Sept 12, there will be a “Plearn Rim Lay” musical performance, a “new normal” open-air concert by the sea featuring famous Phuket celebrities such as Kaem The Star and Non The Voice, at Saphan Hin.
The welcome mat is being specially extended to Thai Health Volunteers who can take advantage of the government’s stimulus program and will give Phuket tourism entrepreneurs an opportunity to show their gratitude for their dedication, commitment and hard work in containing the virus, the report also noted.
Noppadon Pakprot, TAT Deputy Governor for Domestic Marketing, said that the government’s policy to support domestic travel is an important part of the efforts to help tourism operators through the economic crisis.
The initiative of the Phuket Tourism Business Association will be a good model for other tourism destinations in Thailand as they seek to revive their local economies, he said.
“Phuket is an important province for the Thai tourism industry, both economically and socially, as well as a learning centre. It boasts international hotels, boutique properties, Michelin-Star restaurants, world-class tourist attractions with high service standards.
“These assets make Phuket an important tourist and learning center that is ready to exchange experiences with entrepreneurs from other provinces during this crisis,” he added.