The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is hoping to push a bill for a multi-billion-baht project to turn Phuket into Thailand's next medical and wellness destination.
Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, chairman of the FTI's southern chapter, believes medical tourism could be the answer to boost the southern economy, according to a Bangkok Post report.
Both health officials and businesses in the region have expressed support for the project, which is expected to push not just Phuket's economy, but also growth of neighbouring provinces including Krabi, Phangnga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Phatthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon and Songkhla — all represented in the FTI.
Requiring a budget of around 3 billion baht (US$95.8 million), the plan is to dedicate 141 rai (22.6 hectares) of land to develop world-class medical tourism in Phuket. These include tertiary care and high-tech treatment with long-distance medical transport for foreign patients; a global-standard dental hospital; a wellness centre for elderly care, sports therapy and traditional treatment; and a medical school to groom doctors, pharmacists, nurses, traditional doctors and medical laboratory scientists.
The team will be seeking a green light for the Phuket deal with the government at a scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on 3 November. Also in the agenda, are economic rehabilitation packages to support small and medium–sized enterprises (SMEs), in view of liquidity shortages and companies looking for loans.
"In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector," said Kitkong in the Bangkok Post report.