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PM Yingluck Shinawatra when she was on Phuket in 2009

Phuket's Best Ever Chance for Change

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
PHUKET: A visit to Phuket by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Cabinet ministers was confirmed today as Phuket's powerbrokers met to decide a strategy for winning Phuket the changes and the cash it desperately needs.

Today's session will be followed by a regional summit involving all the Andaman provinces on Friday to determine a cohesive strategy for Phuket-area tourism.

On past performances, the visit by Cabinet on March 18-20 could deliver 10 billion baht's worth of instant improvements to Phuket infrastructure and project planning.

The Cabinet meeting on Phuket - first revealed by Phuketwan back on January 19 - will take place on March 18-20. Its significance cannot be underestimated.

Phuket businesspeople will have a chance next week to lobby the Prime Minister in person in Bangkok to focus clearly on what Phuket needs to become a better tourist holiday island.

In a year that Phuketwan has said will be a critical make or break period in Phuket's history, the opportunity for massive improvement has never been greater.

About 50 key Phuket businesspeople, administrators and former governors met with Phuket's current administrators at Provincial Hall on Phuket City this afternoon.

Key message of the afternoon came from a former Phuket Governor, Chadejin Insawang, who led the island 14 years ago.

''Phuket must be brave,'' he said. ''Phuket must have a world view and the will to implement changes.''

Phuket must have a strategy, he said. And Phuket must have a budget. The present Phuket Governor, Tri Augkaradacha, listened intently.

Khun Chadejin pointed out that Phuket had always been crippled by lack of funding because the model for returning cash to Phuket from Bangkok was based on the number of registered citizens.

Phuket has about 320,000 registered citizens, but Phuket's infractructure has to support more than a million people, once Thais from other provinces, tourists and Burmese workers are included.

''Ask the Prime Minister to change the model,'' Khun Chadejin said. ''This government wants to make tourism work as efficiently as possible because it needs the income.

''Suggest to the PM that the formula should be based on income. All of Thailand's tourist centres, including Phuket, should receive back a portion of the revenue they generate.

''Two or three percent would do wonders for Phuket and be a fair return for all of Thailand's tourist centres.''

The transformational idea is likely to take wings within the next few weeks. A number of other aspects that Phuket desperately needs to address were raised today.

The head of the Kata Group resorts and honorary consul for Finland, Pamuke Achariyachi, made an appeal for Phuket to define its qualities and save its beaches.

''What are we selling? Nature? Phuket hospitality? Good food? All these ingredients are now on a downhill slide.

''We've been talking for a long time about the beach umbrellas and loungers, the jet-skis, the many reasons for the decline.

''We need to take these problems seriously before the beaches are destroyed forever. Every beach is now becoming a party beach.

''If the local authorities don't take Phuket's beaches and Phuket's future seriously . . . what are they going to sell next?

''Do they want Phuket's appeal to end with this generation? Where are Phuket's quality tourists?''

Sarayuth Mallam, of the Phuket Tourism Association, said that through no fault of the two Phuket universities, recruits to Phuket resorts lacked the drive and the English skills to succeed and would be competing with the Asean economic community from 2015 with Burmese, Philippinos, Malaysians and others with better English.

Somboon Jirayoot, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said that Phuket desperately needed alternative safe public transport to the taxis and tuk-tuks and the 359,000 registered motorcycles now choking Phuket's roads.

Garbage disposal was an increasing problem, and the fact that 16,000 people were coming from China for Amway seminars on Phuket in April and May highlighted the lack of a conference and exhibition centre.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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How can expats give a message to Yingluck that may shed some light on certain aspects of Phuket? Is there a postal address?

Posted by Tbs on February 14, 2012 19:09

Editor Comment:

Call your embassy or honorary consul.

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The Thais live here, they work here, they should be registered here. But instead of pushing them to register, the honeypot guardians are afraid of loosing political clout, if not local rooted people will vote on merit only.

Posted by Lena on February 14, 2012 20:07

Editor Comment:

Huh? There has been constant pressure for people from other provinces to register on Phuket, but people prefer to remain connected to their home provinces. Nothing to do with ''honeypot guardians.''

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Push back some expats, to reduce Phuket population.

Posted by Sean on February 15, 2012 08:36

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"Sarayuth Mallam, of the Phuket Tourism Association, said that through no fault of the two Phuket universities, recruits to Phuket resorts lacked the drive and the English skills to succeed". 11 years ago I taught English at one of Phuket's universities and had first-hand experience of their dinosaur-like approach to education. The students were willing and eager; the administration myopic and xenophobic. I pity the poor students caught up in Thailand's medieval education system. It's all going to change once the English-speaking Asians can work here and it'll be too late to catch up in the workplace for many Thais.

Posted by Sam W on February 15, 2012 08:49

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Well put, Sam W!
Further more, it will be a big mistake for the government to give back part of money to Phuket: first, not all business activities pay taxes; second the rich families and operators will be richer and the workers will be poorer! Live to see! What a " Red Shirt way to make politics! To help capitalist to increase their income and leave poor people facing the cost of ( Phuket ) living with the new 300 Baht a day? "

Posted by Mario on February 15, 2012 21:15


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