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Phuket Opinion: Taking the strain

PHUKET: Here we are entering the far side of the ‘peak period’ of the first tourism high season to help aid the island’s economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the island is already showing signs of struggling to cope with the tourists we’ve got.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 15 January 2023, 10:00AM

Black wastewater has already been confirmed flowing out of a pipe emptying onto Surin Beach. The return of the unsightly effluent marks a return to pre-COVID days, nearly as testament to the reports of the number of visitors on the island. However, the black wastewater – never recognised by officials as a health risk – also plainly evidences the inability of our infrastructure to cope with the rising number of tourists we already have.

With 300,000 Chinese visitors expected to visit Thailand in the first three months of this year – and many of those coming to Phuket, with direct flights from China to Phuket starting this Wednesday (Jan 18) – the load on the existing infrastructure will only increase.

Add to that Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announcing last week that Thailand expects to welcome between 7-10 million Chinese visitors this year, way above the original earlier projection of 5mn, under the ‘Great Resumption’ tourism policy, and Phuket will be right back enjoying the ‘natural phenomena’ of algae blooms in the west coast bays again soon.

Meanwhile, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew met with Sarun Charoensuwan, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok last week to discuss efforts to promote Phuket’s bid to host the World Specialised Expo 2027-28, already branded as ‘Phuket Expo 2028’.

The meeting was part of Thailand’s campaign to solicit support in the international community in its bid to host the expo, as each country gets one vote to determine which one of the five candidates will win the right to host the expo. (The other four candidates are the United States, Serbia, Spain and Argentina.)

CBRE Phuket

Unless the expo bid is to rely on those members of the international community living in a vacuum and being fully unaware of any developments in Thailand unless Thai officials tell them, it is going to be a hard sell.

Worse, keep in mind that the proposed dates for Phuket to host the expo are from March 20 to June 17, 2028 – with two months of the prime ‘algae bloom season’ to be enjoyed before the annual southwest monsoon rains arrive in May. Of course many visitors come to Phuket to enjoy the local culture, but they will most unlikely want to be swimming in it.

On paper, the solution to Phuket’s wastewater problem is simple: harsher penalties for fouling waterways, the development of wastewater systems actually designed to cope with the load they will encounter and so on. Yet so far it is been a long, ongoing battle for officials to give this dire postcard the proper attention.

There is still time before the expo bid goes to vote in June this year, and years before the expo is to be held, but this cannot be one aspect of Phuket’s development left ignored while trying to win the right to host a major international event based on sustainability and future. They need to start now.

Of course we all want Phuket to win the bid to host Expo 2028, we just want Phuket to be capable and worthy of hosting it.

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Pooliekev | 16 January 2023 - 15:15:21

@JohnC. Having lived in China for 17 years, I am puzzled as to why you tell these lies. I can only assume ignorance and racism. 

Pascale | 16 January 2023 - 14:19:00

@JohnC    Sounds a bit generalizing to me. So I guess having seen many Brits/Aussies wetting themselves or laying in their own vomit after getting heavily drunk, it's ok to say they all don't mind  swimming in that water and feeling right home here too ! Same as you do,otherwise you would relocate,right ?

JohnC | 16 January 2023 - 09:52:30

The Chinese are used to swimming in trash, slime and sh.t in their own country that's why they feel right at home here. If you have ever been there you will know this to be true.

Timothy | 16 January 2023 - 09:28:07

maveric, so Thailand is 50 years behind the west? Sounds about right. They love to call Phuket "World Class". Is having raw sewage on all the beaches world class? You don't see anything wrong with that? The local authorities are given huge budgets to improve infrastructure, but instead they steal the money. Year after year! Next we will have water rationing again. World Class corrupt...

Longlife | 15 January 2023 - 19:22:33

Yes, agree with you, and also the Sewerage system in congested places like  Boat Avenue needs to be modernized!

Old guy | 15 January 2023 - 16:32:56

While other 3rd world countries have similar problems, Thailand has had the money and time to correct them decades ago. But, they choose not to do anything. Why not?
Do you really believe they'll actually do anything? 

maverick | 15 January 2023 - 15:12:51

Time the whiners packed their bags would help improve the situation all round the west has been polluting the oceans for centuries only got their act together 50 years ago - glass houses and stones come to mind 

christysweet | 15 January 2023 - 15:06:52

If you are still driving a car, then you're part of the problem. If you are driving a SUV or a truck, then you ARE the problem. 

Prab | 15 January 2023 - 14:10:57

this is going to end badly.. 

christysweet | 15 January 2023 - 12:10:05

Expats ought to take this island over- maybe buy it?  Thais do not deserve it and are incapable  of  sustainable management.   No respect whatsoever for this nation. 

Timothy | 15 January 2023 - 11:38:34

This has been happening for many, many years but nothing is ever done to prevent it or correct it. This whole island is being developed with only one thing in mind....$$$$. The local authorities don't care about sustainability, or the environment. They don't care about the future. It's all about approving any project for the under the table money. Total greed. 

Timothy | 15 January 2023 - 11:31:09

There is no infrastructure in place for wastewater. Wastewater flows into the klongs and then into the sea. There are no dedicated sewer lines. The 250 million baht "prototype" wastewater treatment plant built by Mr. MaAnn is just a concrete box that water flows through before running out of those concrete pipes. Total scam! He didn't even bother to extend the pipes under the sand to...

Fascinated | 15 January 2023 - 10:55:13

lets not forget the roads- Cherng Talay to Bang Tao is a nightmare at the moment. its taking up to 20 minutes to get through the junction, not helped by pushy taxi and minibus drivers who don't understand how to merge properly. there's a slim margin of time to build a bypass from Lotus to the big Wat before the land is developed.

Kurt | 15 January 2023 - 10:20:20

We see around us is that Phuket is not capable and worthy hosting Expo-2028. It had 2 quiet Covid years to work hard to upgrade the environmental infrastructuur of the island. Not even drain cleaning at proper times.( lets not talk about sustainability, that is far out of sight here on Phuket). What did they do the last 2 years? Not even repaired the road on Kata Hill during 2 years. 


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