Phuket Notice: Let 2021 set sail

PHUKET: After a terrible year 2020, everyone thought 2021 would be better. How wrong we were. As we enter another year under the shroud of COVID-19, Phuket still struggles to recover economically, still suffering the financial impact of a tourist-free island with many households across the island. without basic income.

Tourists board a boat at Chalong Pier to visit nearby islands yesterday (January 1). Photo: PR Phuket

The full impact of the wave of Omicron infections sweeping the world has yet to be felt as hesitant governments wait to truly understand how much the variant will affect communities. At present, it is the policies of defense against the spread of the virus that are doing the damage more visible than the virus itself.

The endless stream of international media reports has been mind-boggling, with much talk about risk overwhelming hospitalizations “in certain regions”, without real data. Worse was the continued evidence of the explosion in the number of infections, without differentiating how many of them were Omicron.

A wise observer noted Phuket news, “Isn’t that what we wanted?” A diluted version of the virus that presents much less risk [of killing people]? “With the record number of infections reported across Europe, people should pray that it is Omicron, not the Delta variant.

But the reports have done their bit. A general manager of a large hotel on the island said Phuket news that once the government confirmed that Omicron had been identified as a local transmission in Thailand, massive bookings cancellations ensued.

Importantly, the cancellations were not due to fear of contracting Omicron while on vacation in Thailand, but fear of not knowing what entry requirements tourists would face when trying to get home. them after their vacation is over.

It remains to be seen how long it takes for Omicron’s impact to collapse. Reports from Phuket Immigration and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) showed the daily number of tourist arrivals to Phuket slowly increasing to the mid-4000, then dropping to between the mid-2000s. Yesterday ( Jan. 1), the number rebounded to 3,000.

Looking back to 2021, Phuket has done its best to help the islanders get through the year.

One Phuket and its volunteers in helping to ensure food security for those in need have been exemplary. Shaun Stenning and the volunteers who have helped his 5 Star Marine continue to deliver “life packs” of food and essential items to those unable to support themselves also deserve special recognition.

Shaun Stenning’s efforts have now evolved into the Living Waters Foundation, the only foundation in Phuket established solely to help very poor communities develop long-term sustainable income streams. In short, doing the government’s work for them.

On that note, Governor Narong and Vice Governor Piyapong deserve special mention for their efforts throughout the year. As explained in a previous review from Phuket, many foreigners on the island just don’t fully appreciate what it takes to accomplish what they’ve done, with Bangkok-based superiors dictating what policies they are. allowed to implement in Phuket, and what policies they can not. It might not seem like it at first glance, but they were some of the best provincial leaders this island has known in two decades.

As an example only to highlight the constraints they have to work with, it has been disgusting to witness the almost blatant political decision of the national government to deploy and strongly promote the financial assistance provided to workers of entertainment venues in areas declared “red zones” as part of their “We Support You” platform, whereas no worker or similar company in Phuket has received the same simply due to the unspoken policy of never declaring Phuket a “Economic disaster zone”.

While these other areas, namely Bangkok and its surrounding provinces, were considered “lucky” in this regard, Phuket officials decided to create their own luck and allow pubs and bars in Phuket to reopen as ” restaurants ”. A decision that has taught the national government that if we are to live with COVID-19 and its variants, the secret lies in the “COVID-free parameters” that businesses must meet. There is no other way.

As we enter the New Year, our third under the COVID-19 cloud, we wish everyone the best for making our own luck in 2022.

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