PHUKET: The number of passengers coming and going through Phuket International Airport continued to rise in May, with an upward surge of 12.83 percent compared with the same month last year.
However, other figures deserve closer scrutiny this week. And those figures need to be questioned.
The Kasikorn Research Centre claimed in a report that Phuket could welcome 7.4 million tourist arrivals this year, and that tourism would generate 140 billion baht in revenue.
Of the 7.4 million visitors, 86 percent would be from overseas, the centre said.
We are unable to find any reliable source that predicts anything like those kinds of statistics. We humbly suggest the centre either justifies its calculations, or apologises for getting it wrong.
Phuket had about two million overseas visitors last year, and can expect perhaps between two million and 2.5 million this year.
While Phuket International Airport expects to total more than nine million passengers this year, that number consists of arrivals and departures.
And of those arrivals and departures, approximately half will be Thais, and half will be from overseas.
A quick bit of division will show that nine million divided in half leaves 4.5 million, which is the approximate number of total arrivals.
A quick bit of additional division will show that 4.5 million divided by two leaves 2.25 million, which is the approximate number of arrivals from overseas that Phuket can expect (plus a few more on buses).
The Kasikorn call of 7.4 million tourists, with 86 percent coming from overseas, just does not compute with any statistics we've ever seen.
And if the 7.4 million is about three times what it should be, is the 140 billion baht figure for revenue also three times what it should be?
Kasikorn Research Centre, please explain . . .
What's doubly troubling is that these figures were published without question by several media sources, including a couple of English-language outlets on Phuket.
The reason why this is important is that any media that doesn't question information that is obviously flawed doesn't protect its readers from misinformation.
In the case of these kinds of projections, which come with the imprimatur of a leading bank, potential investors looking to put their money into Phuket will draw the conclusion that Phuket is going to be far more prosperous and profitable than it really is going to be.
This is how holiday destinations become overloaded with resorts that cannot be filled. For this reason, greater logic and rigor is needed all round.
If you're in the media on Phuket and you really have no idea how many international tourists are coming to Phuket and how many could reasonably be expected to come this year, should you be in the media on Phuket?
This projection claimed 86 percent of tourists to Phuket in 2012 would be from overseas, a foolish statement that should have rung alarm bells in every news room.
Instead, Phuket's media - Phuketwan excepted - published the questionable projection in its entirety.
Everybody wants to see Phuket prosper. But spreading information that is not based soundly in reality serves no useful purpose.
We expect the Kasikorn Research Centre to explain, one way or the other, in the near future. Banks clearly rely on and always try to produce factual information.
That said, the centre's accompanying list of six recommendations for Phuket and the Andaman to stay prosperous are sound and sensible.
Domestic passenger numbers bounced back at Phuket International Airport in May, up 13.2 percent. According to the Airports of Thailand figures, there were 633,440 arrivals and departures, with domestic traffic just outnumbering international traffic.
Total flights were up 7.49 percent to 4764.
The AoT figures for May take Phuket International Airport's tally for the year to June 1 to 4,123,691 passenger trips so far, a surefire indication that, barring upheavals, the tally will exceed nine million arrivals and departures by year's end.