‘Phuket model’, job creation on agenda for Prayut’s economic team today


More economic stimulus measures are expected today as ministers and experts in the Covid-19 economic management team discuss a job creation scheme for new graduates and packages to bring in foreign tourists.

Chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, the meeting will discuss proposals to boost the economy in the rest of the year, Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said on Tuesday.
Most of new measures would be short-term, he said.
The team will also address the employment situation and discuss a plan to hand financial support for companies that hire new graduates, he said. Previous tourism measures would be reassessed, he added, promising details would be revealed after the meeting.
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said ministries have submitted their proposals to the team, while PM Prayut wants to strike a balance between economic activities and virus control. The government is worried that workers in neighbouring countries experiencing a surge in new cases may illegally enter Thailand, he added.
Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakijprakan said his ministry and the National Economic and Social Development Council will offer a joint proposal on how to bring in more foreign tourists. The Cabinet recently approved a proposal to bring in 200 long-stay tourists from Australia and New Zealand next month to pilot the so-called Phuket model on the southern island. The tourists will be checked for Covid-19 before they depart and again when they arrive in Thailand. If they test negative again after a mandatory 14-day quarantine in their hotel rooms, they will be able to travel in Phuket province. After 21 days in Phuket province, they will be permitted to travel further afield on 90-day visas that can be extended by 180 days.
Authorities will watch how local communities react to the tourists before deciding whether to allow more in, said the minister.
Subsequent groups may be not be required to stay in their rooms but instead be able to walk around hotel areas for four to seven days before travelling outside.
Pipat insisted reopening for foreign tourists was essential for the economy, adding that he failed to understand why medics oppose the move but supported bringing in migrant labourers. He said foreign labourers from neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, where cases have surged, were a bigger worry since they could not be checked if they entered Thailand illegally.