TAT says concrete plan for supply side imperative
Phuket must execute a development plan aimed at diminishing poor quality public services in exchange for over 930,000 vaccine doses prioritised for the island in the build-up to the sandbox initiative, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
"Not only Phuket, but another nine areas bound for reopening this year must have a concrete plan for supply side development and can tell us what to improve to deliver better infrastructure and services when tourists return," said Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT governor.
He said the provincial authorities and private sector must join hands in presenting a quick-win solution to solve problems in the short term during the third and fourth quarters before proceeding with a long-term development plan, such as how to fix expensive public transport in Phuket and Koh Samui.
The quarantine-free reopening for inoculated tourists under the sandbox initiative will consist of three components -- supply side development, herd immunity and marketing plan.
The standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding entry rules and regulations will be submitted to the Centre for Economic Situation Administration for consideration on June 4, while more vaccines are being allocated to the pilot area in Phuket to build herd immunity.
When SOPs are ready, the TAT will roll out marketing promotion to tap demand from Western countries which could fly to Phuket both via direct flights and transit flights via Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok.
Mr Yuthasak said the spike in Covid-19 cases has made vaccines an urgent need for every place.
Thus, if the government gives vaccine priority to any sandbox destination and help conduct sales and marketing plans to boost the local economy, those provinces or districts should commit that they will respond with better tourism standards to keep tourists coming in the long run and not to repeat the same old problems.
Nuntaporn Komonsittivate, head of commercial operations at Thai Lion Air, said seat bookings have not returned to normal as most passengers travel out of necessity rather than for leisure.
She said TLA's Bangkok-Phuket route was reduced to one flight per day with a 50-60% load factor, down from an average of five daily flights with an 80-85% load factor after the province imposed screening measures, requiring incoming travellers to show vaccine or Covid-free certificates prior to arrival.
Meanwhile, the Airlines Association of Thailand (AAT) yesterday started a vaccination programme for 15,970 employees from seven airlines in Thailand. The five-day scheme being held at the Paragon Hall of Siam Paragon department store runs until May 28.
AAT president Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth said airline employees deal directly with a lot of passengers. Having airline employees vaccinated not only builds their confidence, but also enhances the image of Thai tourism.