Lifeguards opened narrow safe-swimming channels marked with yellow-red flags where they could keep watch on any tourists venturing into the waves close to shore, with red flags marking dangerous no-swimming zones alongside.
The heavy weather warning issued last week has yet to be lifted, as waves offshore are still forecast to reach up to three metres high in thunderstorm areas. Local tour boats for the past week have been restricting their tours only to nearby islands such as Koh Lone, Racha Yai, Naka Yai Island and Koh Hei (Coral Island), off Phuket’s east coast.
The tourism sector, supported by the relaxation of travel restrictions, particularly showed signs of improvement in April, as did the Thai economy in all areas, reported the Bangkok Post yesterday.
According to the Bank of Thailand, the country’s economy in April improved from the previous month. In particular, the tourism sector picked up thanks to both local and foreign tourists, in line with easing COVID-19 containment measures in Thailand and loosened border rules, said the report.
In April, the number of foreign tourist arrivals after seasonal adjustment was 293,350, up from 210,836 in March and contributed by a broad range of nationalities.
Year-to-date offshore tourist arrivals tallied around 791,000. However, the number of foreign tourists from Russia and Eastern Europe dropped off as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Chayawadee Chai-Anant, the central bank’s senior director, corporate communications department.
“The improving tourism industry also supported the service sector, especially the tourism-related transport sector, as well as bolstering domestic consumption and the labour market,” Ms Chayawadee said.
Thai travellers and the hotel occupancy rate also improved in April compared with the previous month, while the service production index, excluding gold, increased to 11.9% in April from 2.9% in March.
However, despite tourism officials touting boosts to the tourism industry which they have attributed to the easing of entry measures for tourist arrivals, the number of foreign arrivals via Phuket International Airport still has yet to show any marked improvement all throughout the month of May compared with the preceding months.
According to the latest report by Phuket Immigration stationed at the airport, the highest number of international arrivals on any one day throughout May was 3,611, who landed on May 29. That number is still short of the 4,000 on one day that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha last month claimed we received on May 1.
Any increases in the number of arrivals after the latest “easing” of entry measures, which still require a Certificate of entry issued through the Thailand Pass system, have yet to be reported.