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Seven Smulders at a Phuket honorary consuls' meeting

Phuket Honorary Consuls Target Transport, Taxis, Tuk-Tuks

Friday, February 24, 2012
PHUKET: The honorary consuls of Phuket are due to meet with Phuket's Governor and officials on Monday as the impetus for action to fix Phuket's problems builds momentum.

In less than a month, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Cabinet are due to meet on Phuket, and a lot of talking will take place between now and then about what Phuket really needs.

Seven Smulders, representing the Netherlands, has emerged in the past 18 months as one of the honorary consuls who have been pressing for changes.

''There are five or six serious issues to be addressed,'' he said. ''Public transport, taxis and tuk-tuks I put at the top of my list.''

Monday's meeting is not expected to be as fiery as some of the meetings have been, largely because for now most of the more intense talking is taking place in Bangkok.

The honorary consuls have achieved growing awareness of Phuket's issues since the novel quarterly summit came into being two years ago.

''The group is an excellent mix of expats and Thais,'' Mr Smulders said. ''Cooperation between the countries is extremely strong these days. We are all dedicated to making Phuket a better place.''

Although the security and safety of residents and tourists remained the paramount concern for the honorary consuls, Mr Smulders - named Seven because he was the seventh and final son - said that Phuket's problems needed to be kept in proportion.

''Phuket is still a great place for a holiday and the vast majority of tourists go home after having a wonderful time,'' he said. In his five years on Phuket, the biggest changes he has noted are in the growing density of the traffic on the roads - and on the beaches.

''Phuket's beaches are much more crowded than they should be these days with commercial operations,'' he said. ''They need to be kept as natural as possible.''

The Dutch, he added, have long been fans of Phuket. As experienced travellers to the region - he had an inkling a Dutchman was probably the first European to set foot on Phuket - the Dutch seldom found themselves in trouble.

Best estimates are that 200,000 visitors come to Thailand from the Netherlands each year and about half go to the Andaman region.

''It has become more expensive, though, with the appreciation of the baht,'' he said. ''Five years ago you could get 50 baht for each euro but today the rate is about 39.5 baht.''

He hopes the best aspects of Phuket can be enhanced and the problems overcome. Having been living on Phuket for five years and enjoying every minute, he is still as enthusiastic about the island's appeal as he was when he came for the first time on his honeymoon in 1985.

''With the cooperation of everybody who appreciates Phuket, the island can be given a long and happy future as a tourism destination,'' he said.

Comments

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I having a case of dejavu.

Posted by Glen on February 24, 2012 14:19

Editor Comment:

Catching? I hope not.

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Mr Smulders is absolutely correct - if everyone did cooperate then Phuket could truly be a 1st Class Tourist Destination.

I am only thankful that my business is not operated in the same way this island is administered. For any business to succeed requires careful management and that involved identifying strengths and weaknesses - building on the strengths and amending the weaknesses.

This was once an incredibly beautiful place. Now is just a place where tourists lives are complacently put at risk and are open targets to feed the greed and corruption.

Posted by Graham on February 24, 2012 14:21

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Action not Words. Other wise this no news at all.

Posted by john s on February 24, 2012 15:34

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We come back to the same old problem.
This needs outside agencies and a lot of bodies on the ground who aren't complicit in the current set-up.

Posted by Doug on February 24, 2012 17:00

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Do you know if the public is allowed to attend these meetings or is it the participants and media only?

Posted by Steve C. on February 24, 2012 21:36

Editor Comment:

So far it's ''interested parties'' only.

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I saw an interview with the new female Vice Governor a few weeks ago. She mentioined that all the laws already existed and if everyone followed them, everything would be fine. So true.

As has been mentioned in PW several times, enforcement is the issue, since 100% of society will follow the laws. How is enforcement improvement possible? Open up the floodgates!

Posted by GiantFan on February 25, 2012 09:49


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