Since more than two months the COVID-19 virus has had a severe impact on the globe. Many countries are affected by this pandemic with the number of people infected and dead rising every day. Thailand and Phuket Island are also affected by this virus. Phuket has had intensive measures such as the announcement of the closing of shopping malls, restaurants, entertainment venues and tourist attractions introduced. Phuket’s beaches are also closed and access to the island by road, water, and air is blocked except for essential purposes in order to completely control the spread of this virus. Certainly, it has had a wide impact on the Phuket Tourism Business as, at this time of year, the island is usually crowded with tourists yet it’s almost totally silent nowadays. However, in this severe crisis, we can see the resilience of Phuket’s people to work together to fight COVID-19.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket office follows this situation closely in order to provide information useful to tourists including announcements through various media outlets in Phuket. Moreover, the TAT Phuket has also coordinated with hotels in the area to inform tourists who seek to fly back home.
Phuket operators, in terms of hotels, resorts, shopping malls, and tourist attractions are alert and aware of the safety of their customers first and foremost by adopting measures from the Ministry of Public Health. Thus, hotels and resorts have introduced an activity called ‘Big Cleaning Day’ to spray and disinfect their properties. Besides providing alcohol gel services at tourist attractions, the promoting of wearing a hygienic mask, establishing a social distancing system, including increasing cleanliness measures to create confidence for customers, a general raised public awareness has been reached.
The restaurant business has also been severely affected. However, various restaurants decided to close before receiving the announcement from the province in order to help to reduce the pandemic and are now selling a-la-carte and cheaper food instead. Some restaurants provide free food boxes to help those affected by the COVID-19 crisis, such as the unemployed and people who lack income. Moreover, all restaurants allow the customers to take away meals instead of eating at the restaurant and also provide delivery services strictly cooperating with the provincial rules.
One more important power and local hub in this crisis is the private business sector of Phuket comprising nine private organizations such as the Phuket Tourist Association, the Thai Southern Hotel Association, Phuket Real Estate Association, Patong Hotel Association, Kata-Karon Hotel Business Association, Phuket City Development Co., Ltd., Phuket Ministry of Industry, the Phuket Chamber of Commerce, and the Tourism Council of Thailand. They readily support the government’s work in providing Chinese interpreters to hospitals in screening patients, supporting budgets, food, and necessities for staff members as well as the establishment of a field hospital at the Phuket City Hall for the daily growing numbers of COVID-19 patients. Furthermore, private organizations and associations also participate in raising donations and gathering various appliances to complete the establishment of the Phuket Field Hospital within days.
And there are plenty of generous business owners in Phuket such as the proprietor of the Grand Supicha City Hotel who sacrificed the hotel to be a screening centre for the checking of COVID-19 in order to lighten the local hospitals’ burden. The owner of the Manohra Hotel allows doctors and nurses at Vachira Phuket Hospital to stay for free so as not to return home and risk their families. There are many other business owners and people who have sacrificed themselves and their money to help others. Thus, we have seen various volunteers in terms of inventing ‘The Face Shield’ as a protective device for medical personnel and staff and also raising funds for the purchase of masks and protective clothing for doctors and nurses to reduce workplace risks. We also have seen members of the Provincial Red Cross and housewife groups help sew masks to distribute to people who do not have a mask yet and also various media in distributing useful news and helping affected people. Besides, plenty of food and donations were donated to hospitals. All this shows the kindness of Phuket people in this difficult time.
Also extremely important in all this is that we’ve seen the power of cooperation of Phuket’s locals by staying home in order to stop infections and by creating social distancing to reduce the spread of the disease, and many companies have tried to adapt by allowing their employees to work from home. Thus, most Phuket people avoid outdoor activities and leave the house only if necessary as the government asks for cooperation in order to reduce the burden of doctors and nurses who are working hard in this situation.
Phuket e-magazine and the Phuket people would like to thank the team of doctors, nurses, and all staff including hospital administrators at Vachira Hospital and other hospitals that are working hard to take care of COVID-19 patients. We would like to give encouragement to the staff of all departments, as well as all of Phuket’s people. Please be patient and wait for the day that this crisis has passed, our Pearl of the Andaman will be as bright and shine again as beautiful as before.