Governor touts “Sandbox v2”, targets key issues to keep Phuket tourism open

Governor touts “Sandbox v2”, targets key issues to keep Phuket tourism open

PHUKET: Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew is targeting a series of issues in hopes of launching “Sandbox v2” so tourism in Phuket can remain open and continue to generate much-needed income for people living on the island.

“The situation with the increase in COVID-19 cases after the New Year’s festival may be of public concern, but I confirm that there is no idea to close the island in any way,” Governor Narong said yesterday (January 5).

“Because of what has been achieved from the start, there are two main issues, which is to solve the problems of feeding people. as well as disease control, ”he added.

“From the Delta era to the Omicron era, we were able to control the disease to a satisfactory level before the new year, and at the same time also contribute to the economic recovery…

“The economic recovery is going well, but in the area of ​​disease control we need to think about how to live with COVID-19,” he said.

“What we have to keep in mind is not to let diseases [sic] who come with tourists reach us. We still have to continue to detect infections on day one. That is, when everyone arrives at the airport, they should be checked for infection and wait to hear the results at the hotel. At this point, we can be fairly confident that the infection will not infect others, ”Governor Narong assured.

Governor Narong maintained that local residents and business operators should remain vigilant to protect themselves from infection.

“He stressed that operators need to take care of frontline workers who need to protect themselves and need to be periodically checked by ATK, and we’ve done that all the time. It is an internal control with which we must be as strong as before, with which all entrepreneurs have cooperated well, ”he said.

“We must seek the cooperation of all parties to protect themselves and ensure that Phuket becomes strong, shiny and sustainable again in the context of the Covid-19 epidemic situation. We don’t know how long this “germ war” will last, but our lives must go on, “he added.


Governor Narong yesterday chaired a meeting at the Phuket Sandbox Operations Center to highlight the main issues affecting tourists wishing to come to Phuket.

The main issues included the Thailand Pass approval system, the availability of hospital rooms for ‘green’ patients, and the increasing capacity of Phuket to perform laboratory tests so that it could identify those infected more quickly. .

In attendance were the Vice Governor of Phuket Pichet Panaphong, Dr Kusak Kukiattikoon, Phuket Provincial Public Health Bureau, the Director of Vachira Phuket Hospital Weerasak Lorthongkham and Bumiikitti Raktaengam, President of the Phuket Tourism Association.

Vice Governor Pichet explained that four key issues directly affect tourists that the national government must deal with.

“The problem of delays in approving the Thailand Pass for foreign tourists. There is not enough staff, resulting in late approval, ”was one of the key issues.

“Province [Phuket provincial government] proposes to get the Home Office to discuss with CCSA the authority to approve foreign tourists traveling to Thailand via the Thailand Pass at Phuket Airport. This is currently not the jurisdiction of the Phuket Provincial Government.

“We need the integration of the relevant agencies to establish a one-stop-shop service center and the people, budget, location and tools that need to be able to work around the clock.

“We also need to establish a call center to answer all the problems of foreign tourists, which is beyond the potential and power of the Phuket provincial government,” said Vice Governor Pichet.

The second issue was Phuket’s ability to perform the second mandatory RT-PCR tests for foreign tourists. “This is not enough for the growing number of tourists,” said V / Gov Pichet.

Steps have already been taken to enlist support from the Department of Public Health’s Region 11 office as well as hospitals and other private medical service providers to cope with the growing burden, he said. .

“Five mobile laboratory vehicles will arrive. The first two mobile laboratories arrived on January 4 [Tuesday], An additional 1,200 people will be tested for infection per day and we have adjusted the laboratory method to a full sample. We have also set up a call center to coordinate with SHA + managers. One option is to increase the cost of the second PCR test, which should encourage private hospitals to join and take more action to support us, ”he added.

V / Gov Pichet also raised the issue of the lack of hospital rooms on the island for tourists who test positive to be designated ‘green’ patients, meaning they only have mild symptoms of illness. ‘infection.

“The problem is that the number of hospital isolation and hotel isolation rooms is not enough to support the number of green patients,” he said clearly.

“The Phuket Provincial Public Health Bureau, Vachira Phuket Hospital, and the Southern Section of the Thai Hotels Association are negotiating with the hotels to open as a hospital or convert some rooms to an isolated hotel to accommodate their own positive clients without be pushed to stay elsewhere, ”he said.

“Meanwhile, Vachira Phuket Hospital is currently exploring and evaluating more hotels that voluntarily wish to become a hospital, such as The Par Kathu, De Tu Thalang, The Craft and the Royal Paradise. [in Patong], etc. We are expecting to be able to add 200 more rooms, ”he added.

The fourth key problem was that insurance companies were unwilling to cover the expenses of tourists designated as “green” patients.

“We propose that the CCSA prescribe measures for incoming foreign tourists that they must be insured with Thai insurance companies in order to resolve the issue,” he said.


Phuket officials reported the issues to CCSA and received a standard response

“The central government informed [officials] in a meeting that the central government will assess and discuss the problems that arise in the functioning of the pilot provinces in order to receive tourists from Phuket in order of importance, ”said Vice Governor Pichet.

The CCSA had indicated that it would provide support “to accelerate actions to help resolve the problems that arise in Phuket,” he said.

Governor Narong said he would like to thank Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister [Anutin], and the central government executive, “who kindly acknowledged Phuket’s problems.”

“From the work of the province of Phuket [the provincial government] In the first version of Sandbox, the province of Phuket recognized the problems and adjusted its measures due to different circumstances from past situations.

“Therefore, Phuket Province needs to further adjust the concept of working methods. There is a plan to adjust the Phuket Sandbox to version 2 in order to prepare and solve the problem of accommodating tourists traveling to Phuket, so that we can facilitate the arrival of tourists, including the need to meet the needs of tourists as well. tourists with the operation of Phuket, ”Governor Narong said.

Governor Narong also noted that Phuket must move forward by providing third-dose “booster” vaccines as much as possible.

“This is to build confidence among the people of Phuket that the infection will be asymptomatic for them,” he said.

“Most of them [those infected] are mostly green patients. They occupy designated beds and the medical staff available in the area is sufficient to care for the general public, but for infected foreign tourists, facilities or support staff may be insufficient, ”he noted.

“This is why we asked the central government to support this part for the province of Phuket. The province has received good cooperation from all sectors, public and relevant parties, such as in Soi Bangla, Patong, where everyone is cooperating and holding a big clean-up day, and creating greater responsibility for each other “, did he declare.

“Now everyone in Phuket is doing well because there are a lot of tourists coming, which improves the economy. Therefore, I would like to convey to all brothers and sisters, establishments and related agencies that with this good situation that continues, each of all sectors must contribute to controlling the epidemic of COVID-19 and take care of themselves. strictly following public health measures, ”urged Governor Narong.

“If the whole of Phuket province continues to work together, Phuket will be able to take care of each other and overcome this crisis,” he said.

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