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Mass tourism increasing the pressure on Phuket's natural gems

Chinese Spend on Phuket, Says BBC

Monday, August 27, 2012
PHUKET: First the Good News: BBC television in a report from Phuket says that Thailand is fast becoming a hot destination for tourists from China, providing a boost for the country's economy.

Now the Bad News: In a report for a Malaysian outlet, a regular traveller to Phuket says that the Phuket people are no longer as friendly as they once were and can be downright greedy, even rude and racist.

Who to believe? Well, perhaps both.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher found people in Phuket's tourism industry who acknowledge the obvious - that waves of ''noisy, messy and untidy'' Chinese are rapidly seeing off Phuket's traditional European visitors.

Well, not all the stereotypes are true. Fisher says that the 24 charter flights a week from China to Phuket are boosting Phuket business because, contrary to conventional thinking, ''Chinese tourists spend more per day than their British counterparts.''

The report does not delve into the environmental issues of sustaining Phuket's beaches and reefs in a mass tourism invasion, simply noting: ''The Chinese tourism boom has well and truly landed on the beaches of Thailand.''

More to the point is a report in that advises readers to go elsewhere for the hospitality they once found on Phuket because Phuket people are no longer welcoming and obliging.

''On my first trip there, I could see why Malaysian hoteliers want to train their staff to be as friendly and hospitable as the Thais,'' the author writes.

''Since then, I have visited Phuket eight more times.

''Unfortunately, what has become very noticeable over the years is the downslide in service standards in this part of Thailand, The Land of Smiles.

''Friends who recently visited the island also commented on being treated differently - and with indifference.

''After a trip to Phuket last week, I have no doubt that service standards have definitely dipped.''

After relating incidents that show signs of discrimination by Phuket vendors, the author returns for a parting salvo:

''It's a norm to bargain at bazaars but one shop attendant said: 'Why you want cheaper cheaper? You are Malaysian, not Indian!'

''Is such disdain reserved only for certain nationalities or is there an overall ebb in service in Phuket?

''Is it because those manning the stores are predominantly non-Thai nationals? Are we hearing less sawadeekap because there are fewer Thais in the service industry?

''Whatever the reason, it will be a very long time before I make another trip to the resort island.''

From the sound of it, the Chinese might soon be replacing the Malaysians as well.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


How does anyone, anywhere, know how much a tourist spends on any given day?

Posted by larry on August 27, 2012 13:32


I have been in business here for 11 years and I welcome all tourists no matter where they are from. I'm sure that most industry people do also. In general, I find my Chinese customers to be very polite and altogether lovely. Similar to the vast majority of tourists, no matter where they are from.

Posted by cammo on August 27, 2012 14:04


I just watched the BBC feature article you mention. The standards will surely change now. Forget animal welfare - the BBC showed a Chinese kid on the beach being photographed with a gibbon dressed as a human (shame on the BBC for that). Forget environmentalism as we are trying to practice it.

The other half of your article could well be right. The rudeness on the street comes from Nepalese & Indian traders/tailors. They can be very aggressive. But why do the Thais allow these people in to the country to run businesses that Thais could easily do themselves?

Posted by Logic on August 27, 2012 14:13


''Chinese tourists spend more per day than their British counterparts.''
Ask any Thai not on the chosen coach stop or hotel if the Chinese spend. Analysis is needed to quantify this statement. Ask Thai's if they prefer Chinese or English people - 2nd comment Indians bargain too hard I am not racist but it is well known all over the world, they push people down on price too much, fact or are millions of people making it up, lol.

Posted by HappyFarang on August 27, 2012 14:21


With the threat of being politically incorrect I prefer the Chinese rather than the hordes of Russians. I never really see the Chinese. They do not crowd the beaches of Kata or surrounding areas. I see them in buses, that is about it. Actually it is not about any particular country. I just do not like mass tours. Europeans and Americans do not come here en masse. a few at a times. They do not hang together like herds. So nothing really against the Russians except for the type of tours they take.

Posted by ozette on August 27, 2012 18:03


No question that tourism on the scale like in Phuket has its down-side. The money that is brought here produces not only good but also evil. However the island is and still will be a dream destination for many years and people will keep coming. Compare it with Hawaii, it also kept its reputation for many many years until people stopped bragging about it. Same thing will happen here.

Posted by Jakub on August 28, 2012 15:08

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