Officialdom is failing us on so many fronts that the Governor is right – we are becoming the laughing stock of a country where putting a Band-Aid on top of an existing Band-Aid to treat a gaping wound is standard procedure.
And this comes from Bangkok’s appointed representative in Phuket – not an elected official. An understanding of what this means screams loud about how dire the situation is.
Gone are the days of elected officials holding top office in Phuket. Once upon a time the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) led the way – with a president elected by the people of Phuket at the helm of the most important development policy decisions, with Bangkok there to provide assistance.
That all changed with the Thaksin administration, which restored the strings of power to link directly to Bangkok – where all major policy decisions are now made – with every single decision involving a budget requiring a Bangkok official’s consent. Figure that one out for yourself.
To be sure, the move to centralise policy through Bangkok wasn’t to make sure Bangkok could help Phuket develop. After upgrading the airport from a simple airfield in the 1980s, Phuket never needed Bangkok’s help. Foreign expertise in hotels and the fledgling expat community along with Phuket locals with drive and foresight led the way in developing the island’s tourism industry.
Many others would like to take the credit for it, but this is how our tourism grew.
That has stayed so much the same that the Tourism Authority if Thailand (TAT) still does not promote Phuket through its own major promotional events. It doesn’t need to.
Check the TAT website if you want. Phuket is obvious in its omission, though Pattaya and especially Chiang Mai are still strongly supported despite both being very well known and heavily promoted by private tour companies both here and abroad.
Perhaps Pattaya needs positive promotion, or perhaps it is for show for the Bangkok masses and their capital-centric leaders.
As for Chiang Mai, well who could argue with ditching all attempts to build a major convention centre in Phuket for two decades and instead finally take the budget allocated through a World Bank Development Fund loan – promoted locally at the time as the “Thai Khem Kaeng fiscal stimulus policy” – and build a convention centre in northern capital.
That all came with great support from the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), whose former president is our now Tourism & Sports Minister. At least that guy knows how to get things done in Thailand. Let’s see if our Governor can achieve the same success.