Phuket, known as “The Pearl of the Andaman” is a prime destination of Thai and overseas tourists for its spectacular scenery, world recognized magnificent beaches, eco-adventures and culture. Prior to 2020, over 10 million tourists visited Phuket each year. With an international airport, Phuket is an important hub of economic activity, having an annual income over 470,000 million THB (16,000 million USD) mainly derived from tourism.
Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, like many other countries, Thailand has introduced strategic measures for controlling the contagious situation as quickly as possible for the benefit of the population. The management to control COVID-19 in Phuket was extremely challenging as there were a large number of tourists from all over the world during the peak time of infection. Nevertheless, with the synergy of public organizations, the private sector, and communities, along with the experience of Phuket in dealing with the past emerging infectious diseases such as SARS and MERS, Phuket was able to control the outbreak of COVID-19 within a couple of months. The strategies that lead to this success include factors such as a super lockdown measure, lockdown at a district level and village level in some areas, collaboration of all sectors for screening, local quarantine supported by the hotel industry, and establishment of a field hospital which had the highest number of beds in the country for COVID-19 patients.
It can be said that in the fighting match with COVID-19 “Phuket is the winner”. However, there is no war that creates no damage. The hotel and tourism industry, the main business of Phuket, had to close down and laid off their staff. This has had impact on the household income chain. It is a big challenge to revitalize Phuket and recover its economy, while also dealing with the situation of COVID-19 outbreak worldwide. With the synergy of all sectors, Phuket has been able to efficiently manage for controlling the outbreak as well as make Phuket a medical and wellness tourism city. Tourism is ready to be reopened and welcome tourists with a special tourist visa (STV), alternative yacht quarantine (AYQ), alternative state quarantine (ASQ), and alternative local quarantine (ALQ). Welcome all to Phuket and please believe that it is a safe haven.