Are Bali and Phuket reaching their peak as tourism destinations? The symptoms and challenges are very well known. Yet tourist arrivals continue to climb and the room count continues to increase. A case of ‘destination over-exuberance’?
Phuket Tourism Associaton VP, Bhuritt Maswongsa, was interviewed recently about the state of tourism development on the island: Phuket Hotels Enjoy Good Times.
Some interesting quotes from article:
What worries some tourism executives is the rapid growth of tourism that looks dangerously like a runaway train heading for disaster.
He calls for very serious application of the law and regulations on new developments to end relentless expansion much of it without a master plan.
New investments in Phuket’s hotels will be difficult in the future due to the high cost of beach properties that make it less feasible to build hotels. “There are excessive land costs and a return on investment is almost impossible.”
Sounds familiar? Here’s what’s facing Bali: An Island on Auto Pilot?
In the face of limited coastline there’s only a few ways to cater to continued growth in tourist arrivals:
- increase development density of existing coastal areas – go high-rise.
- identify new developable areas – go inland, take over agriculture areas and protected nature reserves, make use of sites previously too expensive to build like hill slopes.
- reclaim land from the sea.
- develop an adjacent island.
- reduce the average length of stay.
But then again, if the destination is so sought after, why not just move up the value chain? How? By strictly managing land use and island-wide hotel room inventory. This holds visitor arrivals at a sustainable level. Then let market forces prevail. Those willing to come pay more. Ultimately, you not only gain better margin but also put less strain on the environment.
If countries can move from ‘sweat shop’ industries to ‘high tech’ and services why can’t tourism destinations do likewise?