PHUKET TOWN: Phuket could be developed to rival Switzerland as a destination for well-heeled people seeking rejuvenation therapy or cures for chronic conditions, or simply wanting relief from the stress of life at home. Addressing an audience composed mostly of people from private hospitals, resorts, traditional massage centers and restaurants, Rachane Potjana, vice-director of the Department of Export Promotion, said Thailand should target people seeking to combine vacations with therapy – particularly the elderly. The potential financial gains could be very large indeed, he pointed out. Such people might stay in Thailand anywhere from one to six months, spending up to 600,000 baht each. Phuket, with its direct flights from Narita, would be particularly well placed to attract such visitors from Japan, he added. But he told the seminar, held at the Thavorn Grand Plaza Hotel last week, that Phuket must first must upgrade its health services to world standards. Khun Rachane also stressed that resorts and hotels must be appropriately equipped, and staff trained to handle elderly or sick people. That said, he noted that Thailand had an advantage in its traditional kindness toward elderly people. Also on the list of priorities, he said, should be the development of suitable tours for the elderly and ailing.