After spending the last two days in Phuket and other Southern provinces to meet with local officials, residents and business owners on how to drive traffic to the hard-hit region the Thai Government and Prime Minister have said they want to make Phuket a medical and health tourism hub, among other long term tourism ideas.
The visit was prompted by the fact that due to the Covid-19 pandemic borders remain closed for regular foreign tourism to the country. The limited number of tourists under a special tourist visa plan that can enter the country, with many restrictions, measures and quarantines, will not be enough to help the province according to local business owners and the residents.
One of the primary ideas is to turn the island to a medical, sports and health tourism hub. As these individuals are already concerned deeply with their health and would often be coming for health related procedures, hospital care and wellness procedures that require significant treatment and recovery time they would not be opposed to quarantine, according to Thai officials, as the first portion of their trip would be for their medical care.
After they received their medical treatments and tested negative for Covid-19 at hospitals and wellness centers on the island the tourist would be free to enjoy a vacation under their special tourist visa on Phuket.
The Thai Government is also interested in bringing business and sports conferences to the island with business people from low risk countries (Such as China, according to the government) and sporting events and conferences with athletes who went through quarantines and proper medical checks. These sporting events would, according to the Thai Government, boost domestic tourism for those interested in seeing the events. The medical category and athletes here to compete and for prizes would be more willing to go through hoops, tests and quarantine then a “regular tourist” according to the government.
The Thai Government is focused on a long term plan for tourism currently as they stated that in the short term mass tourism, like the island and Southern provinces profited from before, was simply not an option due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic around the world.