Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan O’Cha will personally visit Phuket on Monday, November 2, to discuss with local and regional leaders ways to help the island which has been badly hit by lack of foreign tourists.
Thailand currently has closed borders to general international travelers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Phuket leaders have stated to the media multiple times that the island depends on foreign tourists for nearly 90 percent of their GDP. Without foreign tourists, the island has badly suffered with thousands having been put out of work, laid off or left the island to return to their home province.
The Thai Government originally was set to introduce a so-called “Phuket Model” to draw tourists to the island but that plan was eventually scrapped after it reportedly drew resistance from what was described as prominent local residents concerned about the potential spread of Covid-19.
The Thai Government has also tried various plans to get domestic visitors to travel to Phuket but those plans have not been as successful as officials had hoped. Most domestic tourists, according to the Thailand Tourist Authority, seem to be sticking closer to home, visiting Chonburi and Rayong and Trat which are closer to Bangkok. This leaves the Southern islands and provinces which depend heavily on foreign tourism in desperate situations.
The Pattaya News notes that the Prime Minister visited Chonburi several months ago and was reportedly “stunned” at how hard the tourism dependent Pattaya had been hit by Covid-19 after meeting with local business leaders. That visit helped prompt the PM to move forward proposals with the Special Tourist Visa, which so far seems primarily aimed for Chinese, to bring more tourists into the country.