Notabel speech by Banyan Tree’s Founder Ho Kwon Ping.
Excerpt : "I think the next phase is going to be trying to increase the (tourist) numbers and making sure that we don’t focus on pure infections or reinfections, that we focus on in fact, whether there are serious hospitalizations or people in ICU, rather than focus on the sheer number of the infections. Because these are inevitably going to increase and we should not get worried about that."
Full text: "Well, first of all let me say although I would have loved to be here but I’m not able to be here because I was a beneficiary of the Phuket Sandbox. I came from Singapore a week ago and had a really incredibly easy entry into Phuket, and a great time but you know, it’s time to go home. But I think the Sandbox is not just something that’s important for Phuket or for Thailand, everywhere I go and everyone I’ve talked to has talked about how the Phuket Sandbox is a really historic example of what the rest of Asia needs to do. And I keep on emphasizing, if you look at the geographies, there is no place East of the Maldives and West of Hawaii that has got an experiment like this. I think New Zealand and Australia just announced another deferment to their travel bubble. Hong Kong and Singapore have announced yet another deferment to their travel bubble. So I think you know the whole world is looking at the Phuket Sandbox. Australia might want to adopt the Sandbox and make Tazmania into a Phuket, Bali is going to be the one for Indonesia, Phu Quoc for Vietnam and so on and so forth.
The interest of the world in the Phuket Sandbox is not just for Phuket’s domestic tourism economy nor for Thailand, but it is a really viable way for the rest - the whole of Asia to open up again. And I think that it is critically important because then people in Phuket have to realize that they have a really important role to play. 30 days in I think we’re all really happy. Initial detractors have said the numbers are very low but all of us in the industry in Phuket and the government are very happy the numbers are low, because after 18 months of a near coma to try to get the human body back to learning muscle memory, to get everything ready, it takes time. So having a slow start has actually been very good for Phuket, the very low levels of infection compared to the people who have come in has been very encouraging.
I think the next phase is going to be trying to increase the numbers up and making sure that we don’t focus on pure infections or reinfections, that we focus on in fact, whether there are serious hospitalizations or people in ICU, rather than focus on the sheer number of the infections. Because these are inevitably going to increase and we should not get worried about that. I think there are two ways, and we’ve discussed with the Phuket governor about the possible ways, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand and the TAT Tourism Authority as well aware, there’s two things that need to be done. The first is on the Thailand side, as other countries are doing from Singapore to the UK, people are beginning to recognize that infections and reinfections are not what really counts, it’s hospitalization p and ICU rates that counts. So the Phuket government and the Thai government have to emphasize those new numbers as the UK government is emphasizing - it’s not infections but it’s hospitalizations. So on that part I think the Thai government has to try to shift the narrative towards how many people are really getting sick, not “are the numbers going up from this to that” and so on.
However, that having been said the rest of Thailand is having a serious outbreak. Bangkok in particular and the rest of the provinces. I think what’s really important is that EU countries, the national governments spurred on by travel agents and media and other people, I think all of them have to recognize that it’s necessary to disengage the perception of Phuket, from the rest of Thailand. Because it should be a situation where Thailand could still be a red alert zone but Phuket could be a green zone. And there are examples like this already in the EU with Denmark and the Faroe Islands and so on. I think that’s what the EU could do, begin to recognize the nuances around the world, that there are other Sandboxes coming up and as long as that particular Sandbox is well organized as it is in Phuket, that Sandbox should be separated from the alert status they give to the rest of the country."
Transcripted by Natchasiri Kunaporn
Source: FB page of Cassia Phuket Bangtao Beach