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Phuket needs a strategic blueprint to build for the future

Phuket's Strategic Outline: Tell the World

Monday, December 12, 2011
News Analysis

PHUKET: Langkawi, Phuket's rival holiday island destination in Malaysia, has just been given a blueprint for its next five-year strategy.

The blueprint provides ''fresh directions, a sharper focus, and new strategies to bring in investors, improve infrastructure, broaden the range of attractions, strengthen marketing, and develop skilled workers.''

The Langkawi blueprint has the potential ''not only to increase the number of visitors but also to raise the income and improve the livelihood of the island population.''

So where is the five year strategic blueprint for Phuket? Where are Phuket's fresh directions, Phuket's sharper focus, the investors, the infrastructure, the better marketing and the skilled workers?

You have to wonder how Phuket has succeeded as well as it has without a strategic blueprint. You have to wonder how many of the present problems might actually be solved if there was ''A Real Plan.''

Although public transport is acknowledged far and wide as Phuket's biggest problem, we've never seen anything approaching coordinated action to provide a clue as to where Phuket might be in five years, or 10 years.

Sure, Airports of Thailand has a plan for Phuket International Airport, two handfuls of light rail proposals are being scrutinised, the tuk-tuk drivers and the local taxi drivers are having pressure applied to abandon their monopoly, but where is the Phuket transport strategy?

How does it fit with the Phuket development strategy, the Phuket environmental strategy, and the Phuket marketing strategy?

If anyone happens to stumble across any of these blueprints, please let us know.

As far as we are able to tell, every Phuket local municipality has a plan but it doesn't necessarily take account of what's happening in neighboring municipalities, or what's in the best interests of the whole of Phuket.

Langkawi's master plan has been in place since the mid-1980s, when the island improved its tourism traffic from 200,000 to 300,000 in the space of a year by becoming a duty-free destination.

The master plan transformed Langkawi into a major tourism destination, attracting 2.5 million visitors last year compared to Phuket's 3.5 million.

''All this would not have been possible,'' says a report in the New Straits Times, ''without a master plan.

''The undoubted natural attractions that Langkawi is blessed with in abundance would not have been enough to bring in the visitors in such numbers.

''They need to be able to get to and get around the islands, places to stay and relax, and things to do.

''Above all, when tourists have to travel a distance and they can pick and choose, they need to be courted.

''It was, therefore, the Federal Government's direct involvement and the substantial public and private investments in infrastructure, facilities and promotional activities over the past 20 years that made it possible for Langkawi to become a leading island tourist attraction.

''Nevertheless, it was clear that a new blueprint was needed to further develop the tourist industry on the island and give it a new lease of life.

''Though Langkawi has made it into National Geographic's top 10 beaches in the world, it has still some way to go to catch up with the world's top 10 island tourist destinations like Phuket a little to the north, or Bali further down south.

''For this reason, the new five-year plan launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, whose goal is to increase annual tourist arrivals to three million, double tourism revenue to RM3.8 billion, and create 4200 new jobs by 2015, is more than timely.''

What would also be timely is a blueprint strategy for Phuket from the Thai Government, a strategy that removes Phuket's transport problems and its reputation as an island where tourists are sometimes scammed, ripped off and mistreated, and imposes a real sense of order.

Our New Year's wish is for a Phuket strategic blueprint to give Phuket a real future.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


i see last year's much lauded blueprint to improve parking along Patong Beach has fallen by the wayside. Rental cars and motorbikes business as usual and god forbid you should have the temerity to try and park in a vacant space that has been 'reserved' with cones. It appears that the new signs have been modified to indicate rental parking everywhere and the rest of us can go without.

Posted by Mister ree on December 12, 2011 13:11


I think that most of the readers would be extremely surprised to see a well focused blueprint on moving the island forward.

Posted by Anonymous on December 12, 2011 13:22


Well at least there is a plan to build a world-class conference and exhibition center in Phuket. But the perhaps the budgeted 2.6 billion baht could be spent better.

Posted by Sherlock on December 12, 2011 15:42


Langkawi is one very beautiful place and providing they do manage it properly, and it looks like they will, then tourism can thrive without destroying the natural environment as they have done on Phuket.

Phuket certainly has no plan. You only have to look at the current state of the problems here, most of which could easily be sorted simply by applying the law.

Posted by Graham on December 12, 2011 18:12


Phuket already has a strategic "blueprint". It's a plan to make the whole of Phuket more "blue" to compete with Pattaya for the sex tourists. "Blue" as in blue movies. For example, the new road of hooker bars opening off Bangla, as if we didn't already have enough. Seems like some guys can't get enough...

Posted by Hieronymous on December 12, 2011 20:17


Langkawi is way way ahead of phuket by a miles, it's in a different class now with a good plan in place for it's future.Unlike Phuket who has set its sights low and achieved that goal by electing for the low end of the tourist trade and investor market catering to the eastern european and sub continent trade that, coupled with the constant bad press associated with the scam artists,tuk-tuks, jet-skis, violence and very poor infrastructure, I'd say phuket's boat sorry cruise ship, has all but sailed and the people who are entrusted with it's guardianship have let it and the people of the island down very very badly.

Posted by Scunner on December 13, 2011 00:36


These numbers seem odd to me and I wonder where they come from? I have been to Langkawi and aside from cheap beer, spirits and chocolate it has NOTHING on Phuket. Perhaps it is that Langkawi tourists are not so evident. Perhaps Phuket tourists are more visible because they are out and doing things in the community while Langkawi visitors are sequestered into the resorts that they seldom leave. Whatever the reason, you do not see nearly the number of travelers in Langkawi that you do in Phuket.

Posted by Bill on December 13, 2011 04:58

Monday July 13, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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