Phuket SMEs are calling for assistance in reopening to tourists


PHUKET: Representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Phuket have called on the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Board (OSMEP) to provide assistance by providing access to low-interest loans without the onerous requirements currently required by the government, agencies and agencies to set up a fund so that they can be reopened to tourists.

The call came yesterday (October 15) during a meeting at the Royal Phuket City Hotel in Phuket Town chaired by Phuket Lieutenant Governor Pichet Panapong.

Present to hear the plea in person was Mongkol Leelatham, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Board (OSMEP).

Mr. Mongkol, a former senior banker, was previously President of Thailand’s Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank (SME Bank) and President of Export-Import Bank of Thailand (EXIM).

At the meeting, OSMEP Director Weerapong Malai said the meeting was important to hear the opinions of entrepreneurs in the Phuket area, including the issues they are facing, obstacles to a successful reopening and recommendations from local SMEs to enable OSMEP this can do what it can fix the problems.

Mr Weerapong pointed to the importance of Phuket through the Phuket Sandbox Program as a pilot province in the country’s tourism revitalization plan, which allows foreign tourists to travel to Phuket without quarantine.

“There are approximately 43,000 entrepreneurs across the country and the number of SME operators in Phuket accounts for 1.35% of the total number of SMEs in the country,” he said.

He also pointed out the many projects launched by OSMEP that are available to Phuket SME Operators to nurture and develop entrepreneurs in Phuket, such as the SME restart project, as well as SME cluster and in-depth development projects Marketing channels for SME entrepreneurs.

OSMEP is also running a competition for national SME awards, regular-level business promotion and development activities for SMEs, activities to increase the potential of online entrepreneurs through digital marketing, and activities to become the best SME Provincial Champions, said he.

Notwithstanding all business support programs announced by government agencies, including projects launched by OSMEP, Phuket SME officials yesterday urged OSMEP to set up a fund so they can rebuild their businesses to get them back to business and serve tourists.

Key Phuket business and industry leaders have repeatedly warned the national government over the past year of the long-term damage to the infrastructure of the Phuket tourism industry and urged the national government to do more to help businesses struggling to survive if it does the country will finally be reopened to tourists, shops will be open to serve them.

Notably, the Phuket Sandbox program began more than four months ago on July 1st. However, yesterday (October 15), Phuket SME operators led by Wirintra Paphakityosapat, President of the Phuket Tour Operators Association and SME Entrepreneurs in Phuket, asked OSMEP for help to reopen.

Phuket SME operators called for assistance in providing low-interest loans and reducing the process of applying for a loan, which has proven to be a major obstacle for many small businesses in Phuket to raise much-needed funds for the reopening.

Phuket SME operators also yesterday called for a fund to be set up to help tour operators to use them as a source of capital for business redevelopment to accommodate tourists who will be coming in the near future after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o- cha announced this Thailand will be open again to receiving vaccinated international tourists from low risk countries without quarantine from November 1st.

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