PHUKET — Officials on the southern island of Phuket said the tourism “sandbox” program was so successful that they are now planning to launch more initiatives to attract more travelers under a brand new campaign called “Together Phuket Stepping Forward.”
Phuket Gov. Narong Woonciew says the new campaign will build on top of the success of the island’s sandbox scheme. Discussions to launch “Together Phuket Stepping Forward” were held at a town hall meeting, which was attended by representatives from the authorities and private sectors, Narong said.
“Together Phuket Stepping Forward” would see Phuket turning into a tourism, education, and service innovation hub between 2023 and 2027, according to the Governor.
Phuket was one of Thailand’s top tourist destinations prior to the pandemic, generating 442 billion baht in tourism revenue in 2019, according to government data. The island was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with tourist numbers plummeting and many businesses shutting down.
Officials say the revival of tourism, through the “Phuket Sandbox” program, has generated 2.14 billion baht from over 70,000 tourists between July and September, though only 31,000 of them were foreign visitors.
Bhummikitti Ruktaengam from the Phuket Tourist Association told the media the latest figures show that 51,748 tourists spent around 62,000 baht each per trip during the sandbox stay.
In order to attract more visitors, Bhummikitti suggested a number of measures, including lowering insurance policy conditions for COVID-19, and reducing related fees for low-risk groups.
Meanwhile, the Disease Control Department said half a million vaccine doses are being sent to four southern provinces where local health authorities are struggling with a surge in coronavirus cases.
Department director Opart Karnkawinpong said the four southern provinces of Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani, and Songkhla have already received an earlier allocation of 500,000 vaccine doses, but more are urgently needed to combat the outbreak.