Bloomberg are reporting that business groups on Phuket are hoping to reopen to vaccinated travellers from October as part of their plan “Phuket First October.”
The Thailand travel and tourism community has been devastated by the pandemic and hopes to allow more visitors into the country have been dented by quarantine arrangements that have acted as a major deterrent.
The Phuket Chamber of Commerce and Phuket Tourist Association have joined forces with a number of other business groups to pool funds to buy vaccines privately to ensure that 70% of the population on the island aged 18 years or older are vaccinated.
The government roll out of vaccinations is not expected to allow quarantine-free foreign visitors until 2022 which may mean that Phuket, along with the rest of the country, would miss out on peak tourist season, including long-term travellers who may spend the European or North American winter on the island.
The plan would need to receive government approval before it could be implemented.
“We can’t wait any longer. If we have to wait, we won’t survive….. If we miss this winter peak season, we’d have to wait another year.”
“Phuket has always been a huge contributor to the Thai economy… Today, we’re standing up to take control of the situation. We don’t have a lot of money now but we’re giving one last push, hoping that this will save us.”Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, President Phuket Tourist Association
Thailand, like many other countries, will be closely monitoring the success in the Seychelles who plan to allow vaccinated travellers entry in the next few months.
A big question that must be asked is where they would obtain the vaccines from and how popular the move would be.
Vaccines have been purchased by governments worldwide and so far there have been no indications on the availability of private vaccinations as all production heads to countries to distribute.
How the group intends to obtain vaccines that quickly is not clear.
Politically the move may also prove unpopular. A number of countries have been criticised for the number of vaccines that they have obtained while many countries, including some in Southeast Asia, have struggled to get significant supplies until at least the end of 2021.
Phuket may find itself receiving a similar backlash if it manages to obtain significant private vaccines while people continue to die in countries unable to get sufficient supplies.
Photo credit Arkady Lukashov on Unsplash
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