Phuket chamber lobbies for 'special status' boost

Phuket chamber lobbies for 'special status' boost

PHUKET: The Phuket Chamber of Commerce looks set to ask cabinet to approve its long-term plan to make the province into a special administrative area, saying the move would help it catch up with its projected economic growth before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thanusak Phuengdet, president of the province's chamber of commerce, said the plan will be submitted to the cabinet during its mobile meeting in Phuket on Monday and Tuesday.

Special administrative area status, he said, would help maximise Phuket's capacity to grow in a more sustainable manner.

The plan is to be submitted along with short- and medium-term plans for the rehabilitation of the island province's economy in the aftermath of Covid-19, which has devastated Phuket's tourism sector, he said.

In the short term, the province aims to obtain help from the government to address financial burdens faced by Phuket residence and hospitality businesses, he said, adding financial institutions stopped handing out assistance to those affected by the pandemic last month.

As for the medium-term plan, the chamber wants Phuket to come up with a new development strategy for non-tourism sectors, namely gastronomy, education, marina, medical and wellness and sports and events, Mr Thanusak said, adding the plan would bring balance and sustainability to development.

Phichet Panapong, deputy governor of the province, admitted Phuket has been hit hard by the pandemic, and is now in critical need of economic stimulus measures.

Among the various measures now awaiting government funding are a job-creation programme worth 570 million baht and projects to organise seafood fairs and sporting events four times a month on Phuket worth 18 million baht, Mr Phichet said.

Phuket province is also aiming to start the "City of Gastronomy" project worth 30 million baht to stimulate its economy, the deputy governor added.

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