Thawatchai Arunyik: Where is Phuket’s long term destination development strategy?

Thawatchai Arunyik: Where is Phuket’s long term destination development strategy?

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Previously we asked whether Bali and Phuket are peaking as tourist destinations? I’m sure many others have similar thoughts as well. Phuket’s Wichit na Ranong has also come out to say that the islands lacks real tourism planning. Now non other than, Thawatchai Arunyik, the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, makes some suggestive remarks on Phuket’s future.

The holiday island of Phuket must have a long-term strategy and achieve a sustainable balance, the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thawatchai Arunyik, said today.

”On Phuket, the private sector dumps room rates to compete with one another and resorts continue to be built,” he told a conference of all 14 southern provinces in Phuket City.

”Is that enough? When will enough be enough? You cannot even answer who you are on Phuket.”

In a call for better planning, Khun Thawatchai said that main-road underpasses were not the answer to Phuket’s traffic problems.

”Mass public transport is the answer,” he said. ”Think smart and act smart. That is the way to do it.”

The TAT Governor’s outspoken criticism of lack of a strategy for Phuket is likely to annoy officials who see only positives and excuse the lack of serious action to safeguard Phuket’s future.

”Phuket should stop, maintain and develop what you have,” Governor Thawatchai said. The TAT had always sought to market Phuket to the high end nations but resort rivalries pushed the prices lower and enticed mass markets.

”When will enough be enough?” he asked. ”You can’t even answer who you are on Phuket.

”Krabi is green. Phang Nga is ecotourism. What about Phuket?

”You must decide, clearly, what you are.”

He said it was time resort managements were accountable for their actions: ”The private sector needs to determine what Phuket is going to be.

”I cannot guarantee whether or not you will survive in the future.”

When asked whether Phuket had reached the point where it now risked being overdeveloped, he would only respond: ”Nothing in the world grows and grows and never stops.”

Governor Thawatchai said that other holiday destinations and nations would not allow unlimited construction of resorts without forward-planning.

”Here?” he said. ”People have land, they build a resort. Where is the logic on Phuket?

”Construction, construction . . . I don’t see how this works.”

He said the private sector set the pricing structure for resorts and they would be entirely responsible for their future and Phuket’s future.

Just days ago, Airports of Thailand, which manages Phuket, Suvarnabhumi, Don Muang and three other leading airports, announced plans for a 36 billion baht investment that would create three airport cities at the largest facilities.

Phuketwan has argued that the expansion of Phuket International Airport to handle 12 million arrivals and departures should determine the sensible limit on Phuket’s handling capacity and be followed by a cohesive community attempt to strike a balance with the island’s natural assets.

Phuket’s beaches and reefs are likely to be degraded and destroyed unless rapacious local councils are replaced by a more caring and aware Phuket Beach Authority.

The governor did not mention the continuous pressure being exerted by banks in support of large condominium developers who constantly exaggerate Phuket’s investment potential.

Phuket Wan

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