PHUKET: Bhumikit Raktemga is, in many ways, the man who spilled the beans about Phuket. He has boldly gone public and published a free magazine in the Thai language, openly revealing Phuket's problems.
The media on Phuket seldom takes a hard look at Phuket tourism but the second issue of 'Saphan Hin' magazine contained scathing comments from two honorary consuls, Australia's Larry Cunningham and Germany's Dirk Naumann.
The expat pair are long-term Phuket residents who hate to see Phuket's problems being allowed to grow worse, not better.
On the magazine's cover was Wichit na Ranong, owner of the Indigo Pearl, who slammed developers for uncontrollable greed and warned about the consequences of lack of planning and pollution.
Phuket's problems are not new to readers of Phuketwan but projecting them in the Thai language through the words of a Phuket tourism pioneer takes them, at long last, to the next level.
Coincidentally, a campaign to ''clean up'' Phuket has followed the magazine's no-punches-pulled approach, although the campaign owes more to presure from envoys than Phuket's resort owners.
Whether the ''clean up'' campaign, being led by the Department of Special Investigation, tackles Phuket's entrenched corruption remains to be seen.
The DSI are viewed by many as dabblers who are often unwilling to let justice interfere with traditional ways of doing business.
The farcical declaration on arrival at Phuket airport of the 'Phuket Target 11' without any evidence being presented has done nothing to enhance the DSI's reputation.
Yet with the Crime Crisis centres and enforcement follow-through, there is now a real chance to effectively sort out Phuket's taxi and tuk-tuk related transport issues.
Get public transport sorted and Phuket has a future. Fail to sort it out and investors will simply move on, like so many in Phuket's tourist fan club.
The world is watching. The further the DSI is prepared to go, the better the future for Phuket, and for Thailand.
In a speech last week to a tourim forum on Phuket, resort owner Khun Bhumikit expanded on some of the points made by Messrs Naumann and Cunningham and Khun Wichit.
It's plain that Phuket needs to win back long-stay tourists and renew its appeal to visitors who have money to spend on the island, he told his audience.
With 28 percent of tourists now coming from China, the issue of being reliant on one source - and a source controlled by the Chinese government - could become a problem.
To even consider being a world-class destination, Phuket needs to improve safety and security and good service.
''Travelling point-to-point on Phuket is hardly world-class,'' Khun Bhumikit said. Big government happily took Phuket's tax revenue but returned little, he added.
''No-one has the real heart to solve the problems of Phuket,'' he said, going on to call on original Phuket people to start doing their share.
His key point, well expressed, was that Phuket people were intent on short-term gain despite the prospect of long-term pain.
They now have to be prepared to reverse that situation and take short-term pain for long-term gain.
The test will come on several levels in the next few weeks as Phuket people come to terms with these clear-cut options and decide Phuket's future.
WITH HIS VIEWS attracting wide interest, Wichit na Ranong will speak about Phuket's changing tourism landscape on Friday, September 6, at the Indigo Pearl Resort.
It's an Amcham event. Admission from 5.30pm is 100 baht and includes a free drink during the networking cocktails that follow. To reserve a spot, please visit www.amchamthailand.com, contact Sheree Tanpensuk at email@example.com or telephone 02-254-1041 ext 212.