11 July 2024

Two cruise ships from Malaysia and Singapore, carrying about 2,400 mostly European passengers and crew, docked in Phuket deep-seaport this morning for a brief visit.

Provincial health officials boarded the vessels, the Seabourn Ovation and the Quantum of the Seas, to screen passengers with thermal scanners and thermometers for signs of fever prior to being allowed to disembark.

Deputy Transport Minister Athirath Rattanaseth said this morning that the Thai Harbour Department had received reports from the two cruise ships, about the health of their passengers and crew, 24 hours before they docked.

The deputy minister assured that the passengers are mostly European and not considered at high risk of carrying the new coronavirus.

Conversely, the MS Westerdam, which is carrying 21 mainland and Hong Kong Chinese passengers, was turned away by the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Guam and Thailand, finally being granted permission to dock at Sihanoukville port in Cambodia this morning.

Two more cruise ships, the Celebrity Constellation and the Star Clipper, are due to make port in Phuket for brief visit on Friday and Saturday respectively.

The Phuket Chamber of Commerce said, however, that three million fewer Chinese tourists than forecast have arrived in Phuket since the Chinese government stopped tour groups from leaving China, following the outbreak of novel coronavirus in Wuhan.

The absence of Chinese tourists means a severe reduction in revenue, estimated at two billion baht a month, according to the Phuket chamber of commerce as it has pleaded with the Government to help tourism-related businesses and about 100,000 people working in this sector, many of whom face being laid off.

Hundreds of boats, which normally carry tourists around, can be seen anchored in Chalong Bay every day due to the lack of Chinese customers.