Campaign to pull in envoys
The Phuket Tourism Association (PTA) has launched tourism promotion packages aimed at drawing 14,000 foreign diplomats and staff of international organisations in Thailand to visit the island in a bid to revive its ailing local economy.
The President of the Phuket Tourist Association, Bhummikitti Raktaengam, said 23 foreign diplomats and spouses from 16 countries visited Phuket from Nov 14-16 on an “Ambassadors’ Trip” arranged by the association and other organisations.
The diplomats observed the airport’s new screening process for arrivals from abroad and toured Phuket’s Old Town during the trip. They were also briefed about the new special visas which are being made available for foreign visitors during the pandemic as well as the island’s state of readiness to reopen.
Mr Bhummikitti said the endeavour had been a success and he felt that the diplomats had left reassured by what they had seen.
As a consequence , he said that the association is now working with the Department of Protocol and the Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to bring 14,000 foreign diplomats and staff who work for international organisations in Thailand to Phuket over the course of next year, with the first coming in late January, he said.
“It would help Phuket if 1,000 diplomats come each month. The number is not high and they remain subject to travel restrictions like other foreign travellers,” said the president.
Mr Bhummikitti, however, voiced concern over expensive air tickets to Phuket and competition from the northern provinces during the high season and admitted that, with a current hotel occupancy rate of 35%, hotels in Phuket were struggling to remain afloat.
The association will organise a road show to promote tourism from Nov 27-29 in Songkhla and a “night run” in January next year.
Since Phuket reopened f or domestic tourists, around 120,000150,000 people visited the province each month with the sector seeing the first green shoots of revival after the Chinese vegetarian festival in Oct, he said.
Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket office Nanthasiri Ronnasiri said tourism during the special long holiday from Nov 19-22 was busier than most normal Novembers and projected that over 300 million baht in revenue from holidaymakers had been generated.