A bright future

Posted on April 4, 2011


AUSTRALIANS lead the top 10 tourism nations supporting Phuket but rip-offs and racism loom as threats to Phuket’s tourism future, a key industry leader and observer has revealed.

The number of German tourists is already declining because the balance with nature is slipping, says Somboon Chirayus, president of the Phuket Tourist Association.

Briefing Phuket’s Real Estate Association at Phuket Royal City, Khun Somboon said that the top 10 nations in importance for Phuket are: Australia (420,000 visitors all year long in 2010) Russia (150,000) Britain (130,000) China (130,000) followed by Sweden, Korea, Germany, Denmark, Japan and Finland.

Tourism had the capacity to assist the property/real estate industry because the growth of tourism was generating more resorts, and encouraging people to move to Phuket seeking jobs.

The circle of benefits extended beyond resort employees to service providers and vendors of all kinds, he said.

The downside was that tourism continued to be vulnerable and because of its sensitivity, was easily disrupted, he said.

The key negatives that had the potential to impact on Phuket are:

Politics. Even if a demonstration happens to be confined to Bangkok, the effects spread throughout Thailand to Phuket. [And generalised national travel alerts don’t help.]

Disease. H1N1, swine flu, bird flu. Every potential plague has the capacity to plague the travel industry – and Phuket – very rapidly.

Khun Somboon detects this as a subtle but continuing problem, both among Thais and other nationalities, where disdain for a particular type of visitor is shown in the faces of the people involved

Natural disasters. Phuket has felt the effect of more than its share, from the 2004 tsunami on, even when not directly affected.

The other factor was rip-offs, he said, including not just ways in which tourists could be parted with their cash but also the violence that occasionally accompanied disputes.

The brighter future lay with increasing numbers of tourists, Khun Somboon said. In marketing terms, numbers from Indonesia were up 78 percent last year, with the disappearance of the departure tax, and with the Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore triangle more important to Phuket.

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Posted in: Phuket