Phuket readies Omicron defences for influx of tourists
Phuket is ready to deal with the Omicron variant and serve as a frontline for the tourism industry, provincial governor Narong Woonciew declared earlier this week.
He said this was possible because Phuket’s economy is improving and every measure to curb the contagion is being strictly adhered to.
Narong, meanwhile, said the rising number of travellers has also resulted in an increase in new infections, with Phuket recording 256 Covid-19 cases on Thursday.
Despite this, he said, businesses and residents want the Phuket Sandbox scheme to continue, so the economy can keep ticking over.
He added that people in Phuket are not so worried about catching the virus because more than 50 per cent have received their booster and another 150,000 doses will be administered between January and February.
In the first four days of 2022, Phuket welcomed 13,000 foreigners or an average of about 4000 daily. It is speculated that this may be because travellers prefer to enter Thailand via the Phuket Sandbox scheme instead of having to quarantine in Bangkok after the government suspended the Test & Go scheme on December 22.
Narong said this also shows that foreigners trust the Phuket Sandbox scheme despite concerns over the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
He said 66 hotels in Phuket have been earmarked for infected tourists to isolate in without being transferred to hospitals or “hospitels”, while the province has given the go-ahead to more hospitels to deal with more infected travellers.
Narong said Phuket should eventually have another 1,000 rooms earmarked for isolation and treatment. A call centre has also been set up in Phuket to provide help to tourists and answer questions.