Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha headed to Phuket yesterday to check on the progress of Thailand’s bid to host the Specialised Expo 2028, and to praise locals for their hard work in making the island one of the world’s top 50 destinations.
Prayut clarified to the Phuket locals who greeted him that he was not there to campaign for any election, but to ensure that Phuket was ready to host the expo, which would promote Thailand as a tourism and healthcare destination to millions of visitors.
But the visit did happen to coincide with the announcement, only days away, of the dissolution of parliament and an-already febrile election campaign.
“Today Phuket is world-famous as one of the world’s best 50 places to visit, so give yourself a big hand for the hard work.”
The PM was referring to Phuket’s inclusion in Time Magazine’s list of the World’s Greatest Places of 2023, along with the Isaan region in the Northeast of Thailand.
Prayut stressed the importance of thinking about the long-term benefits to the country, which was why Phuket was reopened as the first place in Thailand to foreign travellers during the COVID-19 pandemic, ahead of other countries.
“Today we have hundreds of flights landing in Phuket because the government has kept its promises over the years.”
The PM also shared the government’s next mission for Phuket, which is to seek support from other countries over the next five years for Thailand’s bid to host the Specialised Expo 2028. The country launched its expo bid in Paris last year with a campaign called Future of Life: Living in Harmony, Sharing Prosperity.
Specialised Expos are held every five years between World Expos, and this year’s theme is “Powering Our Future Energy Needs.”
Thailand faces stiff competition from competing bids coming from much more established cities in the US, Argentina, Serbia and Spain to host the expo, with the Bureau of International Expositions set to announce the winner in June this year.
The Cabinet has already approved a budget of 4.18 billion baht to help the island host the 2028 Specialised Expo, which will run from November 9, 2028 to May 9, 2029.
If Thailand was selected as the host, there will be an estimated additional 7 million Thai and foreign visitors on the island at any one time during the term of the expo, creating an estimated economic value of over 49,000 million baht. Exactly how the island could cope with the additional traffic volumes or accommodate the extra visitors has not been detailed as yet.