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Phuket Opinion: The year of living feebly

Let’s face it, 2018 wasn’t a great year for Phuket. We ended the last high season with the island overrun with tour buses brimmed with Chinese tourists on so-called “zero-baht tours”, jamming the roads and piers, but business operators finally admitting that some independent Chinese travellers were finally arriving free from the package tours.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 6 January 2019, 09:00AM

For some, preserving the literal image of Phuket’s tourism far outweighs the natural beauty of the region itself. Photo: Aram Bartholl / Flickr

For some, preserving the literal image of Phuket’s tourism far outweighs the natural beauty of the region itself. Photo: Aram Bartholl / Flickr

Then the Patong wastewater crisis hit, never to be clearly explained whether the issue had ever been resolved and government water-test results somehow coming up with “nothing abnormal” though the beachwater colour proved otherwise.

Then the quickly forgotten Viking Cave tour boat explosion at Phi Phi saw a fireball scorch 19 Chinese tourists on board, prompting another order to improve marine safety to fall on ever-deaf ears. That came just before the low season kicked in and the Phoenix committed the unspeakable – killing 47 Chinese tourists in Thailand’s worst maritime incident on record.

And this in the era of instant social media posts, when photos and videos of the disaster were worldwide long before Thai authorities could contain the online outbreak – but once the curtain of silence was dropped on the media contain it they did, while spurring no confidence at all in the official response to the calamity.

The disaster was blamed for the huge fall in the number of tourists coming to Thailand, but truth be told, the hordes were already not coming, as Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat explained at a meeting in Bangkok to which all Provincial Governors and heads of relevant departments were called.


Now we have Patong entertainment business operators complaining that the nightlife industry is suffering heavily without the tourist numbers.

In this latest episode, the Phuket TAT office did refute that tourist numbers had fallen drastically, but also oddly declined to note how many arrive at Phuket airport and then head off-island to other less-developed areas, a fact the TAT has been happy to point out for years.

Looking back is the only way to look forward and at this stage there are very few signs that those currently entrusted with Phuket’s tourism situation are going to do anything different.

If things are going to get better we’re just going to have to do it ourselves, just the way the island’s tourism industry was first founded. So bring on 2019, and let’s get to it.



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Kurt | 06 January 2019 - 09:46:30

Great analyse, great opinion.
Unfortunately, phuket thai officials are deaf and blind. Worse, they ignore 'reality signals', but continue 'problem downgrading' pep talks. It's the only thing they can do in their 'innocence not knowing anything'. They just hope the public/tourist believe the nonsense talks ( I not call it lies).  No problem handling/managing at all. 

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