As Thailand has gradually eased its coronavirus-related lockdown, Phuket province has proposed a megaproject to develop a hub of internal medical and public health on an area of around 140 Rai on the peaceful Mai Khao Beach, a stone’s throw from its international airport.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hard hit the resort island of Phuket which is regarded as a world-class destination known for picturesque beaches and distinctive local culture. However the island is now the victim of its own success with an almost total dependence on international tourism has devastated by a collapse in international travel.

The largest project to restore the Phuket tourism is a three-billion-baht international medical hub to be funded by the Ministry of Finance. The project has the main objective to revive the province’s tourism by combining medical and travel services.

The project’s target group is medical tourists but other types of travelers are also welcome. While waiting for vaccines to be available, the project will begin its first phase this year with a budget of 1.29 billion baht.

Expected to be completed in September 2021, the first phase includes the establishment of four medical facilities—a rehabilitation centre, a hospice care centre, an international health plaza, and a long-term care centre for senior citizens.

The 1.67-billion-baht second phase has been scheduled for 2022. It will focus on medical services and research for the prevention of Covid-19 or other pandemics. Specialised centres for certain diseases such as cancer will be built during this phase.

For the local people, the project is expected to create jobs and income for them. It will also provide new and greater business opportunities for people who produce or sell health products and services such as Thai herbal products and traditional treatments.