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.
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.