As Phuket reopens, businesses pray for upturn

When Phuket's tourism industry was brought to its knees by the global health crisis, business owner and single parent Pimonta Suksaen, known to friends as "Micky", went to a dark place.

"I was so hopeless to the point that I wanted to commit suicide because I can't carry on anymore. It all changed when one of my neighbours who was a foreigner and owned a restaurant killed himself. That was a wake up call for me. I realised that even if I die, nothing would get better, everything would be the same or even worse, so I decided to pick myself up and fight again."

Pimonta is the owner of a small restaurant with apartment rooms called Micky's House, close to the famous Patong beach

As vaccinated foreign tourists flew into the Thai resort under a pilot reopening programme on Thursday (July 1) there was fresh optimism.

"If the government isn't willing to take a risk with the Phuket Sandbox program, nothing would change. Even if tourist arrivals increase by only five to ten percent, or even just one percent, I will still have hope because this is the only thing I have left."

Under the scheme vaccinated foreign tourists will not have to spend any time in quarantine and can move around the island freely.

After 14 days, provided they test negative for the virus, they can travel elsewhere in the country.

Thailand lost about $50 billion in tourism revenue last year as foreign arrivals plunged 83%.

Phuket was hit particularly hard by job losses and business closures.

Pimonta has tried to adapt by selling pizza on the beach and offering transport and laundry services to pay off over $15,000 of debt.

Everything now hangs on a successful reopening.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting