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Phuket Opinion: The world is watching us

PHUKET: Buried in the tourism- critical Mastercard Index 2017 released late last month, for which the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) boasted proudly that Bangkok had retained its position as the “most visited Asia-Pacifc destination”, was the fact that Phuket ranked fifth on the same list.

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The Phuket News

Sunday 21 May 2017, 09:00AM


An ominous sign marks a notorious road-accident 'black spot' at the north end of the island. Photo: Bob Mott
An ominous sign marks a notorious road-accident 'black spot' at the north end of the island. Photo: Bob Mott

Only the global capital cities of Seoul, Tokyo and the Korean resort island of Jeju separated Phuket from the top spot. That’s ahead of Singapore, Taipei, and yes, Bali, and streaks ahead of regional capital cities Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi.

To put this in perspective, tourism made up 8.5% of AsiaPacifc’s GDP and 8.7% of its total employment in 2016. In absolute terms this translates to US$2.06 trillion and 156.6 million jobs in 2016, making Asia-Pacifc’s tourism industry the largest in the world by GDP contribution and employment.

In 2015, the Asia-Pacifc region made up 24% of the world’s international overnight arrivals and 33% of its international tourism receipts. It has been the fastest growing region for international tourism since 2005, with South Asia and Southeast Asia the two fastest growing sub-regions at 8.4% and 7.9% respectively.

This is the playing field Phuket is on. This is who our competitors are, and more importantly for island residents, expats and business people, this is the number of people with an interest in all that comes with even landing on the island.

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If the powers that be need any reminder of what’s at stake, this is the only thing that should be explained to them when it comes keeping their areas clear of trash, the effects of mass tourism on our coral reefs, shabby “driver’s license shakedowns” by police to the deadly state of the roads or any other of the myriad maladies plaguing our island.

Phuket is already in a high-stakes game and if our competitors want to gain an advantage, all they have to do is see what problems we fail to fix – and simply not make the same mistakes. They already know the world is watching us and will make their holiday decisions accordingly.

Phuket has been developed at break-neck speed over the past two decades by the sweat of entrepreneurs and the expertise of global tourism and hospitality professionals. These business folk are well aware of what “opportunity cost” means.

For officials, all they need to understand is that “opportunity cost” is the money that never came.

 

 

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Amani Jnana | 23 May 2017 - 06:49:55

No doubt Thailand and Phuket in particular has come a long way in the past 20 years.   Having seen the coral reefs demolished by tourism in my home state of Florida (in the USA), I applaud their efforts like closing the parks for several months so nature can catch up.   I sincerely hope they can be successful in preserving the things that draw tourists to Thailand in the first place.  It won't be easy!  

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CaptainJack69 | 21 May 2017 - 12:41:06

Thai people (generalizing of course) don't care about international perceptions of their country. Nothing international registers with them since they have no real concept of there even being anything outside Thailand (tourists come from a semi-mythical place called "Farangland" or increasingly this strange area called "Jeen").

Global attitudes come hand-in-hand with national development, and Thailand is NOT a developed nation.

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