Smart wristbands for yacht tourists
Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) is working with mobile operator Advanced Info Service (AIS), tourism operators in Phuket as well as a local tech startup to roll out the Digital Yacht Quarantine programme using smart wristbands as a health monitoring tool for tourists during their 14-day quarantine period on the vessels.
The move is meant to help bring 1.8 billion baht in yacht tourism revenue to the country.
"Depa is working with local startups and private firms for this project. Tourism is a key sector where technology can be used to address the problem and boost travel," said Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, president and chief executive of Depa.
Mr Nuttapon said Phuket is one of the smart city projects in Thailand and serves as a magnet tourist attraction. In 2020, Phuket lost revenue of over 320 billion baht as a result of the pandemic, which hampered tourism. In the past three years, Depa has set aside 700 million in assisting over 100 local startups.
AIS is providing Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network under the project and cloud computing services to local partners as part of the solution, said Tanapong Ittisakulchai, chief enterprise business officer at AIS.
This is the first time the NB-IoT service is being provided about 10 kilometres from the shore, he said.
"This technology offers devices battery life of four days and is useful for low data traffic," he said.
AIS works with PMH Holding (POMO), a monitoring and tracking solution provider; Flow Corporation, a yacht marina operator as well as the Thai Yachting Business Association (TYBA), to operate the project.
Chatchai Tangchittrong, business development of PMH Holding, said the company develops wristband and smartwatches that are trackers and health devices for tourists to wear during 14 days of quarantine on yachts.
The system works accurately with smart sensors to measure tourists' pulse, blood pressure and temperature. An emergency SOS is sent in the event of any incident and the tourist needs assistance.
The use of the wristband also ensures the safety of tourists as about two tourists disappear from Phuket each month while travelling and it costs 4-5 million baht to search for each person.
"We provide digital tracking quarantine for hotels in the Cayman Islands for six hotel bubble projects there," he said. "We can provide the solution for hotel bubbles in Thailand too. This lets tourists relax more and enjoy hotel facilities and nearby areas."
The pandemic saw the number of tourists on the island plummet from 40,000-50,000 a day to just hundreds.
Tanyuta Singhmanee, managing director of Asia Pacific Superyachts, which represents TYBA, said the pandemic is taking a toll on membership, especially from other countries having reduced customer numbers by 50-60%.
The project could boost tourist confidence. Around 100 yachts are expected to take part in the programme this year, bringing in 300-500 tourists to the country.