Phuket officials vow to deal with criticism of ‘hospitel’ facilities
Several Phuket government officials on Wednesday pledged to make necessary improvements after a British journalist’s criticism of the province's “hospitel” facilities.
The British journalist, Jonathan Miller, had written a column in "The Times" newspaper about a hospitel facility in Phuket, criticising that tourists are living as paying prisoners there.
“Hospitels” are hotels partnering hospitals capable of providing comprehensive medical care for patients with less severe symptoms. Reacting to the criticism, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew said he has instructed officials to investigate the case.
He said the province is ready to address valid criticisms of the hospitel system but would rebut any information that was not true.
Narong insisted that tourists still have confidence in the province’s public health management as evidenced by 2,500 to 3,500 visitors entering Phuket each day.
He also believes that more tourists would visit the province once the “Test and Go” scheme is reopened from February 1.
Meanwhile, the director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket Office, Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, said visitors who test positive for Covid-19 and develop mild symptoms could receive medical treatment at hospitels or hospitals.
She said the TAT will cooperate with Phuket Provincial Public Health Office, hospitals and other related agencies to ensure that tourists and hotel operators adhere to Covid-19 prevention measures.
“To contain the spread of Covid-19 and relieve the stress of tourists, TAT will create awareness among tourists that they can do activities inside the hospitel area, but cannot leave the facility,” she said.
She added that TAT has issued guidelines to take care of tourists visiting Phuket, which had been forwarded to its 29 offices worldwide to create awareness among foreigners.
Phuket Tourist Association president Phumkit Raktaengam said the province had reached an agreement to take care of tourists as follows:
- Beds at hospitals should be reserved for patients who develop severe symptoms.
- Hospitels are set up to take care of patients with mild symptoms for 10 days.
- Hotel operators in Phuket have been asked to reserve 5 per cent of their rooms to treat tourists with mild symptoms.
- Community isolation facilities have been set up to support patients with mild symptoms from other provinces.
He denied Miller's criticism, saying that the hospitel's move to allow tourists to engage in activities outside their rooms was aimed at relieving stress. He also denied that the hospitel had held a party.
“We will create awareness on activities that tourists can do later,” he said.
He added that the association would address some of the criticisms by the journalist and ask the hospitel to improve facilities, such as internet, TV signal and swimming pool.