Plans to reopen Phuket form
published : 18 Aug 2020 at 04:00
newspaper section: Business
writer: Dusida Worrachaddejchai
The Tourism and Sports Ministry aims to introduce its "Safe and Sealed" tourism plan in Phuket by Oct 1, while operators in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai are teaming up as a northern hub for long-stay travellers.
Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the Tourism and Sports Minister, said the ministry will join a meeting with Public Health, Interior, Foreign and Transport ministries on Aug 27 about the plan to open the country to tourists from low-risk cities or provinces who seek an excursion to Thailand.
After a plan is developed, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) must approve it before launching the scheme.
Mr Phiphat said one possible solution is to provide 1-2 kilometres of beach area near state quarantine villas, such as in Patong, to let tourists step outside hotels and enjoy the beach during the 14-day quarantine.
The CCSA team already visited the province last week to assess the readiness of the destination, but the ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand have to conduct another survey among locals a week after the CCSA visit.
He said even though tourism-related businesses get more use out of beach areas than locals, the government must listen to people who live in other areas due to the possibility of extending the tourism area to the city of Phuket.
"The country is still not back on track, even though we effectively controlled the outbreak," Mr Phiphat said.
"We need to find ways to help the economy recover from the fallout."
The Tourism and Sports Ministry as part of the economic situation administration centre approved by the cabinet meeting last week is planning to push the Safe and Sealed scheme as a priority task.
He said the Phuket tourism model has been acknowledged and received positive feedback from Supattanapong Punmeechaow, the deputy prime minister who leads the economic policy team.
Mr Phiphat said he has talked with Predee Daochai, the newly appointed finance minister, about a 100-billion-baht tourism fund, but the idea requires further discussion with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the economic policy team first.
He said the ministry has to monitor the outcome of the "We travel together" stimulus campaign through the end of August before coming up with the next phase of measures.
The number of room nights redeemed is expected to surpass 1 million out of 5 million rooms that are eligible, said Mr Phiphat.
TAT is set to come up with a tourism campaign to boost the number of trips during the upcoming four-day weekend on Sept 4-7.
Kitti Tissakul, adviser of the Association of Northern Tourism Federation, said Chiang Rai province would like to be included as a destination for long-stay tourists in northern Thailand, starting with Chiang Mai.
Mr Kitti said the province also suggests the government help connections with official sister cities such as Gunma in Japan to strengthen a long-term tourism network by arranging direct flights or imposing travel bubbles scheme with the city.