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Envoys and the media got it wrong: Bangkok suffered but Phuket was safe

Phuket's Big Potential Gain Among the Pain

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
SIX MONTHS through 2010, how has Phuket fared? By our reckoning, much better than last year. If only the Andaman region could have skipped that Bangkok mess . . .

What damaged Phuket and the holiday coast most during the red shirt uprising were those needless national travel alerts. Was there ever any real danger to tourists, anywhere in Thailand?

Perhaps in Bangkok, yes, although tourists were never a target. On Phuket, in Khao Lak and in Krabi? Definitely not.

The whole country was subjected to a needless set of false alarms that were totally unwarranted. If the people behind the national alerts can discern that the four southern provinces are more dangerous because of the ongoing insurgency, then surely they should also be able to discern that Phuket and the Andaman provinces are far, far less dangerous. We'd call it ''safe.''

The travel alerts, needless and counterproductive, are what is now causing the Greater Phuket region's pain: job losses, increased crime, a tourism turn-off. And the unnecessary agony could be repeated again, unless the Bangkok diplomats wise up.

At least Germany and Taiwan got it right by declaring that, despite violence in Bangkok and potential turmoil elsewhere, Phuket remained s-a-f-e.

As well as providing the lowlight, the envoys also provided the year's highlight so far, with Phuket's first coordinated meetings of honorary consuls and embassy representatives taking place, with the Phuket Governor and top local officials.

The quarterly meetings, a suggestion from the German ambassador, have the potential to include expats and tourists in discussions about Phuket's problems and its future as never before.

Already the first benefits have been seen in calls for an efficient public transport system on Phuket and a reduction in the exhorbitant fares of tuk-tuks and taxis.

There's also now a transparency about deaths and crimes involving expats. That should reduce expat paranoia and xenophobia on both sides.

The local and national governments also now have the opportunity to reduce corruption on Phuket and elsewhere in Thailand before the keynote14th International Anti-Corruption Conference Council convenes in Bangkok in November.

And if corruption can be beaten, then Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi would certainly make an ideal site for World Expo 2020. With success of the bid and a strategic plan to right the mistakes of the past, Phuket could be among the world's best tourism destinations within the space of a decade.

That's the great outcome that could creep a little closer in the second half of 2010.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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While I agree that we recognise there wasn't much danger living here, can you really expect others to have the same attitude? Maybe there's more to the story. Is a message being sent to Thailand from other governments? Is it deserved? I didn't see any travel alerts to Canada following the riots at the G20 summit. That being said, many were arrested and face serious consequences for their actions. Will there be any consequences for the few radicals that gave the red shirt cause a black eye and caused death and destruction? I'm a six year 'guest' in this country and hate to see the effects on my friends from the recent problems, didn't we just get over a similar problem from the opposite side? It's time to break the cycle and either embrace democracy or not. I will be interested to see what the poll returns from the Thai citizens on what they want.

Posted by Jon on June 30, 2010 13:26

Editor Comment:

Both sides will tell you they embrace democracy.

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How can both sides embrace something that they do not understand? Democracy is many things, but the fundamental pillar is that of free speech. Without proper education how can an educated voice be heard or understood. Corruption is, at its very heart, the ability to control and Thailand has become quiet adept at controlling its people and the press.

I believe things could change - but it'll take more than mere words from the government and let's be honest, how many times have we heard the same old speeches with no substantial action.

Posted by Graham on June 30, 2010 16:01

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Not another article referrring to national travel alerts! We've got your message. Move on.

Posted by peter on June 30, 2010 16:40


Tuesday December 19, 2017
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