Phuket seeks funds for app to track foreign tourists
Phuket is seeking funds and technical support from the government to develop a mobile application to track tourists visiting the island from next month under the Phuket Sandbox tourism reopening programme.
The app will be connected to the database systems of state agencies, including the local immigration, labour and public health offices, to provide a Covid-19 surveillance system, provincial governor Narong Wunsiew said on Wednesday.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) predicts 129,000 foreign tourists will visit Phuket in the next three months, he said, adding the province has also asked the TAT to attract Thai tourists to Phuket as well.
Foreign tourists are required to have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least 14 days before arriving in Phuket under the Sandbox programme. They must stay in Phuket for at least 14 days before being allowed to travel to other provinces.
"We're trying to get as many people as possible to come to Phuket while controlling Covid-19 at the same time," he said.
"We're setting up a system to help Phuket move forward in a sustainable way. And even if a fourth wave ever occurs, we will have a system in place to deal with it."
And when Phuket's tourism-dependent economy picks up, hundreds of thousands of workers, who have left the province in search of jobs elsewhere, are expected to return, he said.
That underlines the need for a good system to ensure these workers are vaccinated or else they will have to be quarantined and vaccinated upon arrival, said Dr Chaloemphong Sukhonthaphon, director of Vachiraphuket Hospital.
More than 300,000 residents have been vaccinated and about 130,000 more are registered for vaccination. The province is working to vaccinate at least 70% of the population before the Phuket Sandbox programme begins, said Mr Narong.
In preparation for the reopening, a conference involving public health authorities will be held today to review the province's Covid-19 control system, he said.
The tourism reopening plan starting July 1 involves welcoming tourists from countries with low- and medium-risks of Covid-19 transmission who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
The province is imposing strict Covid-19 screening of air passengers and visitors arriving by sea and land, Dr Chaloemphong said.