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Extreme Makeover: Phuket’s Revolutionary Transformative Proposals Set to Unleash a Wellness Tourism Boom! Will this Shocking Bid Unlock a New Era?

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In a bid aligned with the global wellness trend, Phuket’s key sectors – tourism and property development, have urged the Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, to promptly consider their proposition for an Andaman Wellness Economic Corridor (AWC). This strategy is envisaged to give a facelift to the tourism niche and stimulate associated investments.

This was brought to the fore during Mr Thavisin’s recent visit to the provinces of Phuket and Phang Nga. The Prime Minister interacted with the locals and sought input from private sector representatives on viable tourism promotion initiatives. Kan Prachumphan, the chief executive officer of Beach Group and Andaman City Development Co, was among the business leaders who, in response, revealed the AWC suggestion.

The AWC concept, which took shape during the tenure of former Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, proposes the establishment of a corridor that would envelope the six Andaman provinces. The province list includes Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Ranong, Trang, and Satun. The proposed corridor is similar to the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) in its design and strategic goal – to aid the economic revitalisation in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is aimed to catalyse income growth especially in the high-growth wellness and medical tourism sector.

Phuket is already recognised globally for its state-of-the-art wellness centre that attracts a significant number of visitors seeking treatment for complex health conditions and rejuvenation therapies. Along with competitive medical services, Phuket stands out as a preferred destination for international conventions and exhibitions. Concurrently, Phang Nga is a choice destination for marine tourism services, partnering with Sky Doctor service and offering innovative climate therapy treatment systems for long-stay tourists.

Kan is promoting the swift implementation of this plan to angle wellness tourism towards the Andaman region before the new Prime Minister gets preoccupied with other immediate commitments his administration needs to address. He stated emphatically, “We do not want the Prime Minister to forget it. We want it to happen in the region as quickly as possible.”

Susan Pepperell had proposed that the government should bolster the infusion of funds for upgrading Phuket International Airport to enhance its capacity. This is in anticipation of the expected increase in international tourists, pegged to touch nearly 18 million visitors by the following year. The Andaman region stands to profit economically by expediting the propose new airport project in Tambon Khok Kloi of Phang Nga.

Alongside expanding airport facilities, Kan accentuated the need for policy amendments that obstruct the establishment of the AWC in these coastal provinces. He further suggested the Transit Oriented Development and Land Bridge project to fortify tourism and transport linkages across the Andaman region.

“Phuket is already considered a ‘workation city’ that is home to quality workers from all over the world whose skills are based on digital knowledge and service experience,” he added.

Thanapat Uttawarapong, an analyst from Andaman City Development, voiced that setting up the AWC is no lightweight task, but the challenges are not insurmountable. He recommended that the government institute a special law to dissolve legal hindrances. The Prime Minister and his team are scheduled to examine Phuket International Airport’s development, and several other projects when they revisit Phuket and Phang Nga by the end of this month. This review visit comes on the heels of the peak tourist season commencing in November, says the Bangkok Post.

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