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Phuket's Indigo Profusion, Confusion and Chaos

Saturday, February 26, 2011
News Analysis

THE ARRIVAL of several more new resorts in Phuket's secluded Nai Thon beach will test the ability of local authorities to cope - and add confusion because of different slices of the Indigo brand.

Staff at the Indigo Pearl Resort Phuket in neighboring Nai Yang beach reacted in a confused fashion when told by Phuketwan yesterday that Hotel Indigo Phuket Naithon Beach Resort is to open a few kilometres away at Nai Thon in 2014.

It's plain that travellers may well be confused, too. Throw in Phuket's existing Indigo Real Estate, and this confusion multiplies a little further.

What the profusion of Indigos also demonstrates is the rapidity with which change is reaching Phuket's quieter beaches.

The local council that oversees both Nai Yang and Nai Thon already has a serious problem on its hands in dealing with the Nai Yang beachfront, where the ''greed rush'' of commercialisation of public land is evident, and where local residents this week mounted a protest to Phuket's administrative headquarters in Phuket City.

How will the Sakoo authorities cope with rapid change at both Nai Yang and Nai Thon? The answer, evident at other beaches, is: probably not well.

Phuketwan believes it's time all of Phuket's beaches were brought under a single authority, one that will protect them, not allow them to be gradually privatised and covered in restaurants, jet-skis, massage tents, lounge chairs and umbrellas.

The neighboring province of Krabi has banned all these commercial operations, plus beach vendors: it's time the same approach was taken on Phuket, where even leading Patong businessman Preechavude Keesin believes the lounges should be replaced with towels-for-hire.

The shock of coral bleaching, the phenomenon that has badly damaged the Phuket region's other appealing natural treasure - the coral reefs and the beaches are Phuket's prime assets - has shown how vulnerable the Phuket tourism industry has become.

More and more resorts are on-stream to be built over the next few years. But if the coral reefs have gone and the beaches are degraded or destroyed by encroachment, who will want to holiday on Phuket?

The answer, Phuket believes, will be trippers who don't do their research, don't care about the environment, and who are only interested in having a good time. Perhaps a jet-ski vroom in the afternoon, a drinks session that starts over dinner, then a noisy nightclub until dawn?

The issues that are being played out now on the beaches, with thuggery at Surin, garbage buried in the sand at Layan and the takeover of park land at Nai Yang, are likely to become more evident all along Phuket's west coast.

Sustainability is not what it's about. Sustainability means one thing to a marine biologist and a very different concept to a resort developer.

Balance is what's required. But in the ''greed rush'' that has gripped Phuket, balance is slipping away rapidly.

The confusion caused by having two Indigo resorts as neighbors is far more easily resolved than the chaos now enveloping more and more Phuket beaches.

If the problems now assailing the coral reefs and the beaches are not corrected properly and quickly, Phuket's future will grow darker than indigo, and slip-slide downhill.
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Comments

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What a good article..your 100% correct, it's all about ..Balance and ...GREED

Posted by STAN on February 27, 2011 08:21

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I agree.

I'd even go a bit further and have an outside-Phuket authority having the final say on what happens here.

The results show unmistakenly that sustainability, law abiding and environmentally sound decision making is NOT what the Phuket authorities implement.

I just spent a few days in Krabi out of curiosity and I recommend this trip to anyone residing in Phuket.

The difference is graphic. There's nothing on the beaches, except the beach itself and people enjoying the natural beauty of it.

Though Ao Nang has a handful of vendors on the beach road, their sales tactics are nothing like the aggressive touting in Patong.

Tuk-Tuks are occasionally seen but nowhere are they parked along the beach road.

Only constant traffic you see are the longtail boats that ferry off tourists to nearby beaches and islands but even that is very well organized.

They have a ticket office at both ends of the beach and everyone pays a fair, set price.

My point is that the future of Phuket could be very different if those in power wanted it to be. It is obvious that they are only driven by greed.

For some reason this is not the case in Krabi. Go and have a look by yourself.

Posted by Chris on February 27, 2011 09:29

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Good article Alan. Was there any update on the burying of garbage on Layan Beach?

Would be interesting to know if it was dug up, disposed of properly (let's not go into the waste disposal situation - sigh) and that the group who buried it was actually bought to book.

Posted by Graham on February 27, 2011 10:17

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Graham - not just the stories mentioned here. There should be a follow-up story on all of them, but either we are not told about what happened or the case is dropped.

Maybe add a section - What happened to... or something so we can see that Justice does prevail to many stories.

What happened to the guy in the photo with a hand gun that was taken on Patong Beach and he claimed to be in another province at the time?

Things always seem to be swept under the carpet.

Chris - an outside authority would be better and hopefully less susceptible to influences.

Posted by Tbs on March 1, 2011 09:11

Editor Comment:

Tbs, No point in assuming that Thailand operates the way Britain does, or that transparency comes easy. With you and thousands of other regular Phuketwan readers paying a subscription, we could expend the large amount of time and energy required to pursue cases through the courts. Until then, we have to make choices based on the most pressing priorities as we see them.


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