25 JAN 2022,16.30 - 18.30 HRS.
Virtual Field Trip Program
16.30 - 16.40 Welcome and Introduction to Field Trip
16.40 - 17.30 SITE 1 Integrative, Seamless and Participation Management towards Sustainable Health and Wellness Tourism at Tourism Area, Phuket, Thailand
17.30 - 18.10 SITE 2 Regeneration of the Environment: Impact of COVID-19 and Human Behaviors in a Tourist Area, Phuket, Thailand
18.10 - 18.30 Q&A

Thailand was the first country outside China to detect the first case of COVID-19 in the country on 13 January 2020. However, after the first detected case was reported in Thailand, the relevant stakeholders managed to keep the pandemic under control. Collaboration and seamless integration of all involved sectors and strong leadership in all levels were important and effective for COVID-19 management because the novel outbreak causes high impact to people in the whole country. Quick detection, medication and personal protection are the three essential keys in controlling the outbreak. Our implementation stem from a combination of public health measures, social measures and Universal Health Coverage or UHC.

Thailand’s policy on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has made progress since its inception in 2002. Every Thai citizen is now entitled to essential health services at all life stages. UHC is the key in providing a timely response to health emergencies. 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 people. Everyone in Thailand will be able to access the COVID-19 related health services both for Thais and foreigners. The services include free active screening and surveillance, testing, tracing, quarantine, treatment in hospital, hospitel, home isolation and community isolation. The UHC made a more significant success stems from a combination of public health and social measures, including effective communication strategies, enhanced social safety nets, and awareness-raising campaigns based on these three principles of equity, efficiency, and participation.

The Prince Mahidol Award Conference 2022 (PMAC 2022) will organize field trips under the topic of “The World We Want: Actions Towards a Sustainable, Fairer and Healthier Society” in Phuket province, which is known as “the Pearl of the Andaman”. Before the crisis, Phuket used to be a dream destination of both Thai and overseas tourists for its spectacular scenery, world recognized magnificent beaches, eco adventure and typical culture. It is considered an important tourism city of Thailand. Tourism accounts for 90% of the income within the province, with over 14 million tourists from overseas each year and an estimated annual income of over 470,000 million THB (16,000 million USD) mainly derived from tourism.

Phuket was selected as one of the PMAC field trip sites last year as it is the greatest economic zone that was suddenly affected by COVID-19 in March 2020. The outbreak has affected not only people’s related health issues but also the economic tragedy when the income relies on tourism.

The field trip this year will show how the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the geopolitics of health, implications of key shifts in the makeup of the local population, the opportunity gains and threats of exponential technological change, and evolving threats to global health and wellbeing posed by climate change.

SITE 1 Integrative, Seamless and Participation Management towards Sustainable Health and Wellness Tourism at Tourism Area, Phuket, Thailand

Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic 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 integrative, seamless and participation of public organizations, the private sector, and communities, along with the experiences 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 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. However, there were many damages. 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 and recover Phuket’s economy. With the synergy of all sectors, Phuket has been able to efficiently manage for controlling the outbreak as well as high coverage of COVID-19 vaccination. Tourism was reopened since 1 July 2021 under the “Phuket Sandbox program” that allows vaccinated foreign tourists with a special tourist visa (STV) to enter Phuket and do not need to quarantine, but they must stay with freely travelling in Phuket and make all tourists believe that Phuket is a safe haven.

The field trip will cover the issue of this program management which needs integrative, seamless and participation management and what is a “new normal” were agile and adaptable towards sustainable medical and wellness tourism.

SITE 2 Regeneration of the Environment: Impact of COVID-19 and Human Behaviors in a Tourist Area, Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is a world tourist destination because of its renowned nature. However, "every coin has two sides". The more tourists come, the more natural resources are consumed. Environmental conservation has been a challenge for Phuket. Many efforts and approaches have been made to balance the environment and tourists for a long time. When COVID-19 rapidly spread across the globe and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on January 30, 2020, it has generated unprecedented impacts on the whole world, including Thailand. The outbreak has led to a global catastrophic situation resulting in a high number of deaths and infections. It has also caused significant socioeconomic losses, especially in Phuket due to national and international travel restrictions. COVID-19 prevention and control measures increase the amount of infectious waste and sewage. This requires proper waste management.

The impacts of the crisis have also shown a positive side. When the country was locked down, the restriction was applied to the entire country. The number of passengers visiting Phuket declined dramatically. Tourism business and sightseeing had to shut down and caused many effects on people, but it has imparted many positive changes on the environment because nature has time to rest and recover. The water quality of the sea has improved. Endangered marine animals such as dolphins, omura's whales, and whale sharks have been sighted and reported in the Andaman Sea.

This field trip will highlight two places: the Phuket Marine Biological Center and Ban Laem Tukkae, a community of an indigenous marine community called “Chao Lay or Urak Lawoi”. Examples of strategies for conserving and restoring the environment and nature to balance the marine and coastal ecological system, health of people, and economy and tourism of Phuket will be presented. The future plan and actions will also be discussed.