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Krabi airport is a clean, well-functioning version of what Phuket could be

The Real Cost of Millions of Tourists

Friday, September 13, 2013
Brave Enough to Change Phuket

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.

Phuketwan's List of Phuket Needs


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.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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"do Phuket really need these millions?"
That question comes 20 years too late.

Posted by Harald on September 13, 2013 15:06

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More crap from the crappy excuse for an editor..rave, rant. wrong!! wrong!! Sell up and go get a life morrisen

Posted by Alan on September 13, 2013 15:35

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There are more than 4000 new hotel rooms, nearly 1000 managed residences, and many thousand condo units coming to market in the next few years.
If the airport capacity is insufficient to fill all of these beds, expect a bloody price war.

Posted by Yojimbo on September 13, 2013 15:41

Editor Comment:

At some point, Phuket will be as sustainable as it can ever be. The following day, it will be on a downward slide. The only question is, when will that day come?
The greed is irrelevant. That is always unsustainable.

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A new Tsunami is what Phuket need, a BIG one to shake and stir things up a bit.

Posted by BOM on September 13, 2013 16:52

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- BOM

Sorry, no. Tried that already. Had the chance to start with a clean sheet.

Opportunity wasted.

Posted by ThaiMike on September 13, 2013 19:19

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Changes need time. The crackdown and regulating taxi/tuktuks won't happen this or even next year, the bribes won't stop as quickly as we all wish and most shops and restaurants will continue paying commissions and contribute to corruption. This is already Phuket culture and it will take much longer to wipe it out than a couple of months, even it is visibly moving into the right direction now (which I am sure we are all happy about, even the doomsayers). Sustainability is not that crucial yet, as it simply doesn't have such a strong influence on the local economy, at least not visible enough. People only will start to care when they get personally involved/affected and expats have simply no say in that. It's locals who need to recognise what is happening to their precious land and who need to act.

Posted by Jakub on September 13, 2013 19:39

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"A new Tsunami is what Phuket need, a BIG one to shake and stir things up a bit."

I am sorry BOM but this is a very insensitive statement. Considering how many people lost their lives, wishing for a 2nd Tsunami is a little bit disgusting.

Posted by Jakub on September 13, 2013 19:51

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@ Jakub, you summed up the whole mess here by saying, " It's locals who need to recognise what is happening to their precious land and who need to act." Yes Thai nationals that need to act now, not farangs.
@ Bom maybe an economic tsunami is taking place right now with the local prices rising and rising... but beware, crime will also increase to feed that economic disaster.

Posted by DuncanB on September 13, 2013 23:07

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Jakub wrote: "wishing for a 2nd Tsunami is a little bit disgusting"

I know, and I would actually say very, very disgusting! I guess you're too polite, too PC, to tell me that?

What about an earthquake then?

Would that wake people up of their greedy materialistic trip?

Posted by BOM on September 13, 2013 23:42

Editor Comment:

As the first tsunami proved, BOM, disasters only kill and destroy. They do not trigger change. You original message was devoid of logic, a pitiful thought.

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I just was going to comment on Krabi airport experience to another PW article, but here it is all explained now.

I would like to add, that Phuket airport serves as hub for many transit passengers, incl. going to Krabi, Koh Lanta and further islands, as well as Phi Phi is., Koh Yao Noi/Yai, in part, because of not sufficient flights to Krabi, in particular during high and peak seasons. Now Krabi airport allegedly allowing more flight and operates more hours during a day, but it seems that many people are not aware that they better should chose Krabi, and on some occasion Trang or Hat Yai airport to get faster to their destinations.

Then, of course, Phuket airport serves whole Takua-Pa area, a.k.a. Khao Lak, Koh Kor Khao and nearby islands. It's difficult to see how people could conveniently use, Ranong airport as it would takes 2-3X longer times for the ground transportation vs. as from HKT.

Posted by Sue on September 14, 2013 02:07

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Ed, disasters and human collective karma is closely connected. There's a "cosmic debit and credit system" at work here, so nations and people actually get what they deserve, both good and bad.

Posted by BOM on September 14, 2013 13:21

Editor Comment:

What you mean, BOM, is that your own peculiar loopy idea gives you the right to make comments that others would be too deeply ashamed to make. Don't try to kid us. You're only aim is to shock.

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Ther is now no 7/11 or restaurang in Patong that is not crowded with big fat rats. They are running around legs of every visitor and enjoy the kitchens and storerooms. Why do nobody care?? Some new interessting infection will spring out of this and it will be fed with greed as it has been for decades now.

Posted by One Expat 13 years on September 14, 2013 16:47

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Well, Ed, nature uses "shock and awe" - modern people have just forgotten this! Ask any Enligtened Being (yes, there's still some left) about the relation between peoples minds and psyche, and the planets soul. You would be scared out of your ignorant materialistic mind if you knew of these consequences. Maybe good and fine that you then live in ignorance, right?

Posted by BOM on September 14, 2013 20:01

Editor Comment:

There are some things i cannot be certain about, BOM, but people who swing from being swearing and insulting one minute to attempts at intellectual seduction with absurdities the next are certainly not reliable guides to universal issues. I would say you and Voyager I have both broken free of the solar system.

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@ One Expat 13 years, quick bring in the Isaan Rat Restaurants, there's money to be made in Patong. Check what meat and steak you're eating folks of Phuket? Rat on a stick is quite popular these days up north in Thailand.
Or BOM Bubonic Plague will kill the lot of us.

Posted by DuncanB on September 14, 2013 20:57


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