Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn answered Phuket residents’ questions concerning plans to reopen the province to foreign tourists during a holiday-weekend check of domestic-tourism levels in the South.
Phipat visited Patong Subdistrict in Kathu District on Sunday to meet local business owners and locals. He listened to their accounts of difficulties during the Covid-19 outbreak and explained measures to be taken in Phuket, which is proposed a pilot province to welcome foreign tourists.
In addition to the “Phuket Model”, topics also included measures to stimulate domestic tours, the adjustment of product and service prices to impress Thai tourists, disease-control measures, the “new normal” characteristics of tourism, the planned quarantine of foreign tourists, and income distribution among operators at all levels.
Phiphat said the ministry planned to increase tourism-promotion campaigns to stimulate tourism in Phuket. As part of that, the government is organizing a trip to Phuket for a expat foreigners who work or study in Thailand and diplomats, he said.
Recently the government arranged a tour for a similar group of foreigners to visit Khung Bang Kachao in Phra Pradaeng District, Samut Prakan Province. The trip was well-received.
The ministry set up a working body to coordinate with expat groups and outbound tour agencies, urging them to organize trips inside the country instead. They will create tour packages for tourists who wish to travel from Bangkok to Phuket and other provinces.
The minister said Phuket residents asked for a public hearing to voice their disagreement with the “Phuket Model” proposal to reopen the province to foreign tourists. He said the Interior Ministry would be responsible for that.
The plan had been proposed to begin next month, but the emergence of a locally transmitted coronavirus case in Bangkok spooked the government enough to put the brakes on the project. Phipat said tourists cannot return to Thailand until the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration approves.
The Thai News Agency contributed to this report.