PM outlines vision for 'Phuket transformation'
The government is gearing up to promote Phuket as a world-class destination, hoping to lure one million foreign visitors over the next six months and generating at least 60 billion baht in revenue.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha shared the "Phuket transformation" initiative on his Facebook on Friday as fresh easing of coronavirus restrictions took effect that saw cinemas reopen and shortened spells in curfew and mandatory quarantine.
He said the programme aims to attract up to a million high-quality foreign travellers and those who are on "workation" during the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2022, or an average of 5,000 visitors per day.
Some 500,000 tourists travelling via chartered flights from England, Russia, Germany and Nordic countries are likely to visit Thailand from October to March, he said.
Gen Prayut said the government will develop online registration systems including health screening and vaccination certificates to help ease their travel.
He also shared data involving the Phuket Sandbox reopening scheme which was launched on July 1, stressing the scheme was a strategy to restart the hard-hit tourism industry amid the public health crisis.
The Phuket Sandbox was followed by Samui Plus and Phuket Extension, all of which had contributed 2.33 billion baht to the economy as of Sept 27, according to Gen Prayut.
The Phuket Sandbox generated 2.25 billion baht while Phuket Extension brought in 12 million baht. Samui Plus contributed 66 million baht to the economy.
Gen Prayut hailed the sandbox programmes as a success, saying they helped stimulate the economy and had not set back the country's Covid-19 containment measures.
He said the government is also speeding up economic relief including compensation paymements, debt relief and loan programmes.
According to Gen Prayut, a new measure to retain jobs in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) is in the pipeline.
Under the scheme, SMEs will be provided with a subsidy to help them retain employees.
He said that now the outbreak has eased and more businesses can reopen, the government can refocus on the economic recovery.
Gen Prayut said the vaccination drive is vital in helping the country survive the outbreak and move ahead with the reopening plan.
By the end of this year, the country will have secured 178.2 million doses, an increase on the original 100 million-dose estimate, and will also see the rollout of home-grown vaccines next year, he said.
With sufficient vaccine supplies and various types of shots available, he said people will receive vaccines suitable for their age and health conditions.
Gen Prayut expressed confidence that if containment measures go as planned, Thailand will see further reductions in Covid-19 cases and avoid further lockdown.