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Phuket Opinion: Driving prices

PHUKET: Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Deputy Executive Director ASEAN, South Asia and South Pacific Region, Kulpramote Wannalert delivered an interesting presentation on “TAT’s Tourism Plan and Updates during the COVID-19 pandemic for Expats living in Thailand” at the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce (AustCham Thailand) Joint Chambers Phuket Briefing and Sundowners at Le Méridien Phuket Beach Resort, south of Patong, on Friday (Sept 18).

By The Phuket News

Sunday 20 September 2020, 09:00AM

Just getting transport prices right would be a giant step in the right direction in attracting Thai tourists. Photo: Patong Municipality

Just getting transport prices right would be a giant step in the right direction in attracting Thai tourists. Photo: Patong Municipality

Ms Kulpramote highlighted what efforts are being made by the TAT’s 80-odd international offices around the globe to increase confidence among potential tourists to choose Thailand as a holiday destination once international travel resumes.

Ms Kulpramote also explained what role the TAT was fulfilling in helping to boost domestic tourism, especially provinces such as Phuket whose residents heavily depend on tourism just to make ends meet. Especially highlighted was the domestic expat market, for which the TAT was seeking suggestions from expats themselves on what they would like to see offered in order to inspire or encourage them to travel within the country.

Here it seems appropriate to remind people that the TAT’s job is to promote Thailand to the world, that is where their expertise lies, not to promote Thailand to Thais, or even expats living in Thailand. That is the purview of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, not the TAT. Yet, here they are assisting best they can in the current crisis.

In Phuket, the local TAT office headed by the much experienced, well respected and soon-to-retire Napasorn Kakai has launched two excellent campaigns that have not been given much exposure at all. The first is the web platform where all tourism-related businesses can promote discounted packages to tourists, for free.

The second campaign intelligently targets potential Thai tourists by simply offering a B500 voucher to any arrival from outside Phuket who presents evidence of booking a room on the island for at least one night. That may not sound much, but it certainly is enough to help Thais living within driving distance of Phuket to decide whether to come to the island for a day or two.

While the national government is bandying about billions in the name of boosting domestic tourism, campaigns like this can deliver a healthy return for island residents for a relatively small outlay for a government agency. Such tourists will not be spending much, but it encourages many to come and spend a little, and Thais on short-drive getaways always bring their friends.

Such a simple campaign also strikes at the heart of Phuket’s biggest problem in attracting Thai tourists. For far too many years a holiday in Phuket has been too expensive for most Thais to enjoy. The island’s image among Thais as expensive is well on the government’s agenda, and even local business leaders have sought help from the government in redressing that problem.

Phuket Property

While The Phuket News is open to criticsing the government where need be, this problem is for Phuket to fix. How is anyone going to convince people that Phuket is not expensive when social media will let visitors tell everyone themselves exactly how expensive it is to visit here.

Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup understands the issue. For the launch of the Seafod & Gastronomy Festival in Patong last month, she managed to get tuk-tuk drivers in Patong to provide transport for people travelling from the designated car park areas to the festival for just B20. As photos of the conversation between Mayor Chalermluck and the tuk-tuk cartel leaders showed, the concept took quite a bit of explaining, but it was finally understood. Drop your prices or try to last even longer without domestic tourists.

Yet as pointed out in a comment on a story by The Phuket News, under the government-endorsed official taxi fares, the round-trip fare from the airport to Rawai and back again right now will cost more than the airfare from say Bangkok to Phuket. A Thai living on the island also pointed out in a comment how a friend visiting from Bangkok was charged B200 to travel just two kilometres by tuk-tuk in Patong.

Phuket has many, many problems to fix, but if people in Phuket want to start attracting Thai tourists, at the very least this must change.



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LALALA | 21 September 2020 - 07:24:30

Yes, DEK, better stay safe than sorry. By the way, I see this morons when I drive my vehicle, I not need to sit in taxi to see how this morons are driving. 
But hey, please continue to drive in local taxis, good for you and good for me.... if you understand what I want to say.

DeKaaskopp | 21 September 2020 - 00:48:25

@Lalalal   Generalizing again ? I personally know -albeit only a few-skilled taxi driver.And those taxi driver charge fair prices too. But I am sure none of those would like to drive someone with your attitude.  Wondering where your personal experience come from,as you mentioned on here that you avoid Thai people at all cost. 555

Shwe | 20 September 2020 - 12:27:49

If you are trying to change the image of Phuket being expensive, get the only 2 ASQ hotels to drop their very high prices

CaptainJack69 | 20 September 2020 - 12:26:17

The problem is Phuket IS expensive. There's no public transport, only extortionate taxi's (a problem that has been well known for decades and the government has done nothing about), land prices are high so rent is high, so businesses charge more for everything and the cost of living is doubly high. It doesn't help that hotels here routinely demand upwards of 10,000B a night for a room.

Kurt | 20 September 2020 - 12:10:00

The transport pricing on Phuket is a great 'thermometer'. As long the transport prices/use of meters is not at same (lower) level as in Capital Bangkok, that long Phuket Government is not governing/in control of Phuket island. What to think about a province  government what let her ears hang to the power of 'cartels' ?  Allows illegal building constructions, and not stop it? Etc.

LALALA | 20 September 2020 - 12:00:07

As previously statet I would not even use a taxi on Phuket when somebody would pay me to do so simply because of the moronic driving skills of this people.

Kurt | 20 September 2020 - 11:12:55

Good/fine Opinion. However what ever may be on Phuket Governments agenda, the Government not rules Phuket. Phuket is in hands of transport, entertainment 'cartels'. ( a nice word for mafia) . The chiefs call themselves' even 'President' of their organisations, and some are even able to join ministerial meetings on Phuket as we red recently in PN. (  weekend 5 ministers were her...

Kurt | 20 September 2020 - 10:52:37

Guess now we go to have dual tuk tuk fares, set by their 'cartel'. Quiet different fares for Thai and Foreigners.

Galong | 20 September 2020 - 10:18:45

Go almost anywhere in Phuket and notice the fancy (annoyingly loud) stereo systems in the tuk tuks.  They OBVIOUSLY make enough to waste money on such 'luxuries'.  It's rather absurd for unskilled laborers to make so much.

jo.loit | 20 September 2020 - 09:59:57

Everyone knows why...... A very strong “taxi union”!!

Timothy | 20 September 2020 - 09:13:40

The taxi pricing should be set the same as Bangkok. Why allow these guys to operate without meters and charge whatever they want? In Bangkok the taxis have to sit in traffic for hours a day and the meter hardly moves, yet they can make a living. In Phuket, for the most part, the taxis don't have to sit in big traffic jams. Taxi should be same price nation wide. 


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