'Phuket Sandbox' bags B66bn

'Phuket Sandbox' bags B66bn

The Phuket Sandbox has generated over 66 billion baht in revenue since its inception, the province's governor said yesterday.

Narong Woonciew said 503,468 foreign tourists visited the island between last July when the scheme started, and April 30. Their average length of stay was eight nights, he said.

They each spent 55,000 baht on average. Over the 10 month period, tourists contributed 28.1 billion baht directly to the local economy and 66.8 billion baht in total for the island, Mr Narong said.

The jobless rate has also improved since the launch of the Sandbox and Test & Go entry schemes, said Chayanon Phucharoen, associate dean of research and graduate studies at the Prince of Songkla University's Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism.

The unemployment rate hovered around 11% in Q2 of 2021, with 40,000 people out of work, but the number worsened to about 45,000 in the following quarter, he said, citing data provided by the National Statistical Office in Phuket.

There was an uptick in the final three months of last year with just 25,000 job seekers on the island unable to find gainful employment, showing a 6% improvement as the tourism industry got back on its feet, he said.

Although people's income has failed to match pre-pandemic levels, returning tourists have helped street vendors and retail shops alike weather the storm, Mr Chayanon said.

He said he also supports the Phuket governor's policy of ensuring the tourism recovery benefits all parties including small communities outside well-known tourist areas.

With tourism vital for Phuket's economy, the island must improve the skills of local workers and keep promoting itself as a medical tourism centre, he added.

Mr Chayanon said he also wanted to see more partnerships with schools and international hotel chains to boost education and vocational work for local people, giving students access to world-class working opportunities and more chances to build up their English-language skills.

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