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Phuket Opinion: The misguided tour

PHUKET: The delegation of representatives from the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) spoke well of Phuket following their “inspection” of the island this week to assess whether Phuket should be selected to host the World Specialised Expo 2028. The only problem is that they got the full VIP treatment, instead of what the average traveller should expect to experience.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 31 July 2022, 10:00AM

The BIE delegation is welcomed to Phuket Thai Hua Museum. Photo: PR Phuket

The BIE delegation is welcomed to Phuket Thai Hua Museum. Photo: PR Phuket

Phuket officials turned on the charm, and literally guided the delegation to see everything they wanted them to see, including tours in Phuket Town and visits to local venues fully scripted to entertain the delegation and even a turtle-release event at Nai Yang touted as held in honour of His Majesty’s 70th birthday.

What the delegation did not get to see are the areas of the island that were not especially cleaned ahead of their arrival or anywhere else that might show what some parts of the island are actually like.

The official itinerary did not include a trip to Patong or even the “performing arts centre” that is Bangla Rd, even though Patong Mayor Chalermsak Maneesri has made serious efforts to clean the town up in the hope of attracting more tourists. Serious expansion of the wastewater treatment plant is still steaming ahead, unlike other areas along the coast. Surely the BIE is aware of what happens to most wastewater on the island?

The omission is an oddity since Patong is still home to the most guest accommodation rooms on the island. The delegation was treated to a tour on the PKCD ‘Smart Bus’, but not to tours of the main tourist areas along the west coast, again an oddity as that is where most of the hotels and resorts where the touted 7 million tourists will be staying.

On that note, the only explanation officials could have given to answer the question of public transport are the two mega-projects already slated to go ahead: the light rail that will take people from the top of the island to Phuket Town and down to Chalong, and the Muang Mai-Koh Kaew-Kathu expressway down the centre of the island.

"I can only say positive things in how well the presentations were done, how good the answers were that we received. Any doubts that we had I believe have been dissuaded,” said BIE Secretary General Dimitri S. Kerkentzes.

BDO Phuket

The BIE might have further questions later, but as it stands right now, with no public transport along the west coast ‒ again, where most visitors will be staying ‒ the BIE is happy that if Phuket hosts Expo 2028 the event will further entrench the monopoly that the taxi cartels already have in ferrying visitors to and from the planned Expo site in Mai Khao and the hotels where the visitors will be staying. Without genuine public transport along the west coast, the only competition the taxi cartels will have will be, as it is now, independent drivers responding to ride-hailing apps. 

Also not mentioned was that with bid planning to host the Expo from March 20 to June 17, 2028, the closing month of the event will be during the beginning of the island’s “drowning season”, when the southwest monsoon returns, bringing deadly rips to Phuket beaches.

These are only a few of the key concerns that should have been raised, and answered, during the delegation’s “inspection” tour.

This is not to belittle what the delegation was shown. Phuket genuinely has a lot to offer visitors. And even if ignoring how much may be gleaned from the mega-budgets to be approved if Phuket wins the bid, the prospect of Phuket hosting Expo 2028 is a genuine opportunity to bring positive, long-lasting change to the island.

"There is still a lot of work in front of us for the enquiry mission to put together the final details of this report to submit it to the Executive Committee in October, before any final approval can come during the general assembly in November,” Mr Kerkentzes noted.

We hope so.

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Timothy | 01 August 2022 - 11:26:51

Taswegian, you are so right. If you walk anywhere near one of the storm drains on the streets, it's pretty f-ing obvious that there are no dedicated sewer lines. There is raw sewage in them that is overpowering. The sewage is flowing into the nearest Klong and into the sea.  

Kurt | 01 August 2022 - 10:58:31

Wow, is there also some 'steaming ahead' with increasing Phuket incinerator capacity? The thai choice of words,( racing, steaming ahead, etc) is mostly hiding facts/reality.

Taswegian | 01 August 2022 - 10:36:15

"Serious expansion of the wastewater treatment plant is still steaming ahead..." I love the comedic symbolism expressed there, conjures up steaming piles of number 2 maturing in the hot sun!

JohnC | 01 August 2022 - 08:45:00

@maverick. Timothy is the only one to comment truthfully so far. It's not the place for an expo either.

Kurt | 31 July 2022 - 15:12:07

@Maverick, you are right about Qatar. However, Expo-2028 is a different 'smaller' thing. There are 4 countries in the race. Complete different thing. Phuket is not international enough in this Affair. To local, Timothy expressed it well.

maverick | 31 July 2022 - 15:11:22

@timothy - this is clearly not the place for you buddy 

maverick | 31 July 2022 - 12:00:16

So what ! Every potential site for this Expo will sugar coat the official tour, do you believe that FIFA got to see the squalor that migrant workers who built the stadiums lived in - it’s reality. Let’s hope that they put on a good enough show this expo will be positive for island economy 

Timothy | 31 July 2022 - 11:47:18

It would have been a very different experience had they arrived without prior notification. Arrive at airport. Wait in immigration for 2 hours. Walk out of terminal to a gang of thug taxi mafia. Pay rip off fare. Be driven at 150 K passing on blind corners. See the overflowing garbage. Stench of open sewers. Visit Patong for some Thai culture and ping pong touts. Lovely. 

Prab | 31 July 2022 - 11:10:32

great article for once and yes the taxi issue will still be there, for now btw i only use InDriver app and it is so cheap, Patong to Airport 420thb.. suggest you all download it and check it ever 

Kurt | 31 July 2022 - 10:49:43 'baptised' as Expo 2028 project.  The BIE delegation by word of Mr Kerkentzes knows/expressed that the so called Expo-2028 project was already a Health Institution project (with studies) long before Expo-2028 came up. It has been just sneeky opportunistic shuffled/transformed to 'Expo-2028'.

christysweet | 31 July 2022 - 10:42:31

Come look at the trash from  1 resort on Layan soi 7, they simply sweep- or blow  spillage around the garbage cans into the street. How much garbage is this expo going to create?  

Kurt | 31 July 2022 - 10:41:57

The Thai thrown full çharme' in the contest battle for Expo 2028. Of course only showed cleaned/ 'screened' area's/ establishments. But the speeches of Mr Kerkentzes were also diplomatic charming. Two more 'inspections' to go. Last Friday Mr Kerkentzes memorised nicely to know that Expo 2028 project was already a Phuket Int Health Institution project , now 'baptised...

Nasa12 | 31 July 2022 - 10:18:15

A very very good article, and yes we have send a link to BIE


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