PHUKET: More than a million passengers came and went through Phuket international Airport in August. Now the question is, does Phuket want this to keep happening?
The million-plus figure is an amazing statistic and the first time a low-season month has exceeded six figures.
Only four high-season months - January 2012 plus January, February and March this year - have recorded higher tallies.
However, instead of cracking the champagne to celebrate another Phuket tourism milestone, observers are now beginning to ask: does Phuket really need these millions?
It's really time for Bangkok and Phuket authorities to tackle the critical issue of sustainability.
With a campaign against corruption and scams beginning to chalk up results, Phuketwan reckons the environmental needs of the New Phuket must now also be pursued.
For the record, Phuket's overworked airport recorded 1,006,462 passengers in August, a rise of 20.32 percent over the previous year.
International passenger arrivals and departures totalled 543,035, up by 27.01 percent, with the domestic and overseas combined total for the year to September hitting 7,570,662 so far.
A quick calculation shows that if that monthly average is maintained - and there's no reason why it shouldn't actually be exceeded - Phuket will top 11 million arrivals and departures this year.
Phuket International Airport, it has to be said, is a shining example of the lack of proper foresight in planning Phuket's future.
If you have time, compare the photographs in the album above, taken recently by Phuketwan at Krabi International Airport, which is managed by the Department of Civil Aviation.
The conclusion we drew from a visit to Krabi this month is that Phuket's airport managers, Airports of Thailand, have failed the island in just about every possible way.
Not only has there been insufficient attention to what Phuket needs in terms of the capacity of its key piece of infrastructure to keep pace, AoT has also allowed Phuket's taxi gangs to run wild.
Construction of a new international terminal is now underway . . . five years too late.
Fortunately for Phuket, the lack of a second runway sets a practical upward limit on the number of tourists. And that's just great.
There should be no talk of enlarging the airport to cope with more than its new maximum of 12.5 million passengers.
Phuket's roads and hospitals especially are already groaning. They can't take any more.
As for Phuket's prime natural attractions, the beaches and the reefs . . . they are now in a process of increasingly rapid degradation.
Only real law enforcement and the creation of an independent Phuket Beach Authority will save them for future generations.
It's time Phuket got serious about sustainability. A million arrivals and departures on Phuket, every month from now on? No thanks.
Corruption Start a well-promoted public campaign to end corruption on the island and prosecute any official caught taking bribes. Investigate all allegations about Immigration officers and police. Create a corruption-free Phuket model for other provinces.
Sustainability Begin an investigation into what's required to keep Phuket a natural and appealing destination and set limits on development and tourist numbers based on the results of that investigation. Save the reefs and the beaches. Create a Phuket Beach Authority.
Transport Require all tuk-tuk and taxi drivers to register again and to meet international standards of service before being given new licences. Reduce their numbers by 10 percent a year for three years, offering alternative training. Introduce a call centre and abolish double-payment for journeys passengers don't make.
Crime Provide an extra 500 police for Phuket based on its actual population. Take up the Australian ambassador's suggestion of obliterating all illegal weapons and make the island a no-guns, no-knives zone.