PHUKET: The island province is drawing up short, medium and long-term campaigns to revive the local tourism industry, brought to its knees by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Provincial governor Narong Woonsew said on Tuesday the province contributes 400 billion baht in tourism revenue to the country each year on average.
The sector, which employed 323,219 people locally before Covid-19 struck early this year, generated 245 billion baht in annual gross provincial product (GPP).
Mr Narong said the pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to Phuket's tourism industry on which 80% of its economy depends.
The damage to the province's tourism sector caused by the outbreak is estimated at 160 billion baht. It is forecast the number of tourist visiting Phuket this year will shrink to only five million, substantially down from last year's figure of 14.4 million. Of those five million tourists, 1.5 million are predicted to be Thais.
Mr Narong said the huge dent in tourism has prompted a rethink of the province's economic advancement strategy, whereby it will reduce its dependence on one sector and diversify by developing other potential growth-driver businesses.
When the tourism industry in Phuket takes a battering, the entire local economy also crashes, the governor said.
Mr Narong said the priority now is to get the economy back on its feet by implementing short, medium and long term revival campaigns involving cooperation between the public and private sectors.
In the short term, the government is offering a 40% subsidy on air tickets and accommodation for people taking a holiday in the province over the next three months. Also, medical workers are entitled to a travel and accommodation discount as gesture of thanks from the government for their efforts in battling Covid-19.
In the medium and longer term, the provincial office and tourism companies are looking to develop non-tourism sectors to help drive the province's growth. They include education, health and wellness, seafood and gastronomy businesses.