Phuket plans private COVID-19 vaccination drive, aims for October reopening

BANGKOK: Thailand’s resort island of Phuket is planning private coronavirus vaccinations for 250,000 residents within the hope the federal government will permit it to completely reopen to overseas vacationers by October and save its battered financial system, business officers mentioned.

“The people of Phuket are losing hope,” Phuket Tourism Association President, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam mentioned, including that the island’s financial system was at its lowest level in latest historical past.

About 10.5 million of the almost 40 million overseas guests to Thailand in 2019 visited Phuket.

The Southeast Asian nation had solely 6.7 million arrivals nationwide final yr as a result of its coronavirus border closures.

Foreign tourism income in Phuket dropped 78 per cent to 87.5 million baht (US$2.92 million) in 2020 with 2.1 million arrivals.

READ: Thailand to allow long-stay tourists in island of Phuket from October

At least 10 Phuket business associations together with lodges, tourism and chambers of commerce have agreed to pool assets to acquire vaccines and inoculate not less than 70 per cent of the island to create ample immunity by Oct 1 to obtain vacationers.

Phuket’s inhabitants is not less than 400,000 and the private vaccination drive would cowl most adults earlier than a nationwide authorities immunisation programme for the general public begins in June.

“We are in talks with three major hospital networks to procure AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines,” Bhummikitti mentioned, declining to supply particulars.

He additionally argued overseas vacationers vaccinated overseas shouldn’t must bear quarantine.

“They have immunity, we will have immunity,” he mentioned. “We talk to each other through masks. The logic works.”

READ: Lessons on hospitality from a Phuket resort dealing with COVID-19’s impact, a commentary

Others in Thailand agreed.

Quarantine needs to be relaxed or eradicated for vaccinated foreigners, chief technique officer lodge operator Minor International, Chaiyapat Paitoon informed a panel dialogue.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn mentioned a “vaccine passport” was being mentioned by the nation’s COVID-19 taskforce.

Thailand, which has recorded 21,249 coronavirus infections and 79 fatalities, will largely use 61 million domestically made doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for its immunisation drive and can use a restricted variety of imported ones within the early levels.

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