With The Phuket Sandbox now in progress, if all goes to plan, fully vaccinated tourists will be welcomed into Phuket from that date, and for many Phuketians, this is the beginning of coming out of this crisis.
Of course, there are many unknowns about how this will work, if it will unleash new waves of Covid, or even if tourists will come, but this whole pandemic has always been about the long game. None of us really know what the world will look like in six months’ time, or even a year from now.
From the point of view of watching the human struggle and the economic impact felt by so many during this time, I and many others have everything crossed this will be the beginning of us all emerging out of this extremely challenging time. For those who really struggled through this crisis, I hope it breathes some hope into their lives too.
Info on The Phuket Sandbox
If you want more information, I recommend this Facebook Group. It can get a bit repetitive with the same questions, however the information you need is published here when its confirmed with the government. You can also check out the newsroom on the Tourism Authority of Thailand Website.
So if you are coming to Phuket, or visiting any other place that relies heavily on tourists to support their economy, I hope you can commit to some of these actions when you visit.
- Tip generously and I mean really generously. You might think the waiting staff are some of the lucky ones because they have a job, but there’s a chance they’ve been providing for their extended family since the start of this crisis. We can help them move forward faster with our generosity and help them overcome debt they may have built up to get through this time
- Be patient. The restaurants may not have everything on the menu and they may not even mention it until you order. This has happened a lot in the last 18 months and while it can be frustrating, take a breath and remember – when they have no idea how many customers will come, losing supplies because the food expires is an additional cost restaurants have to bear. It will take a while for the equilibrium to settle down again
- Avoid the apps when ever you can. Apps take a huge chunk out of the profit for the businesses registered with them – this includes delivery of food, drivers and more. If you can have a direct relationship with the venue or people, it’s great for the businesses and individuals right now
- Find a local driver. Ask anyone you know already living there, or find Expat pages in the area you’re visiting and ask for recommendations. The apps were already making life hard for drivers before the pandemic, so to help them come out of the pandemic, find a local driver and build a great relationship with them. Local drivers are great, they know the Island like the back of their hand and their English speaking skills are terrific. Be generous again with your tips, as the drivers have suffered so much during this time and you can help them come back stronger. All of the drivers use WhatsApp too, so make sure you set up a WhatsApp account before you leave
- Leave a tip on your hotel bed for the room cleaners. These people always work hard, but for the last 18 months, there has been very little work at all, so your cleaner has been through an intensely difficult time. If everyone left 100 baht on the bed every day (about $4) that will really add up over time and help these people get back on their feet! It’s not much and it makes a massive difference
- Shop locally. If you’ve visited Phuket before, many of the places you loved may no longer be around, or they will have gone through a dramatic upgrade in the absence of tourists. Amazing changes have definitely taken place. So bring your dollars and spend freely on all of the unique items you can buy in a beautiful Asian destination – definitely go beyond the hotel gift shop OK?
- Be kind, be patient, be giving. This time has been horrendous for the community and many of the businesses you interact with will have new staff on board. That means mistakes will be made, orders will get mixed up, you might have to wait for a long time for meals to arrive and things might be messy for a bit. In the bigger scheme of things, none of this stuff really matters, so kick back, relax and enjoy whatever comes your way. This is definitely not the time to leave negative reviews on Trip Advisor
- Get involved in a charity and do some good work while you’re here. Come and join the group One Phuket and ask for recommendations on the sort of work you want to do. It’s a great community page and people will point you in the right direction
Two tips for bookings! If you want to support a business that has been outstanding during this crisis, book your private speed boats through 5 Star Marine.
If you’re here for a health kick, check out Sutai Muay Thai gym in Bangtao. Another group who have given to the local community in so many ways, while their business struggled through this time.
I could list so many more, but wanted to honour these two businesses for the legends that they are!
A world emerging
All over the world, a great healing will start to take place. It’s not going to happen overnight and many will be scarred for a long time to come, but if you can be someone who turns up with a smile and helps bring hope back into communities devastated by Covid, know it matters. It really matters.
Generosity is so important. You wouldn’t believe the stories of loss that have happened in these dark days. Don’t be scared to ask the people you meet what this time has been like for them. So many have lost everything, so giving an extra few dollars to a driver, hotel cleaners, waiting staff and more, will have a bigger impact than you know
We can all heal together, and for now, if you are planning to visit Phuket or anywhere else, be generous. Be gracious. Be beautiful.
What would you add?
Image courtesy of Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Uncommon Courage – the book – is published
Come and join the conversation in my new Facebook Group Uncommon Courage.