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Some on Phuket are now wishing they could sleep, and wake up in 2011

Phuket Jobless Tide Turns: Resort Cuts Loom

Tuesday, May 12, 2009
SMALL tour operators are going bust, golf caddies are struggling to survive, and resort jobs will probably go on the line immediately after the Asean Plus Six summit next month.

Already some of the island's top resorts are giving workers as much unpaid leave as possible as an alternative to the step they do not wish to take: redundancies.

But the strain is showing, with occupancy rates generally sliding below 40 percent. Some resorts are already at 15 percent, which means the outlook is grim.

One large tour operator, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ''Many businesses are at breaking point. Even with discounts, there are not enough customers to go around.''

Phuket's largest single market, Australians, are returning in substantial quantities to Bali, Indonesia, the tour operator said, where there is no political uncertainty and prices are competitive.

The Chief of the Phuket Provincial Office of Labor Protection and Welfare, Anuchon Varinsathien, said he now has eight or 10 workers a day coming to complain that they have not been paid.

Often the business has already closed or is about to close, Khun Anuchon said.

While the Asean Plus Six Summit on June 13-14 will bring a quick injection of cash for some southern resorts around Karon, others in different parts of the island have no such option.

And once the Asean summit has passed, the island's whole economic outlook seems decidedly bleak.

Khun Anuchon said that he has 10 staff and they are increasingly stretched. Each case at the labor office requires about 90 minutes of paperwork, including an interview, then often a follow up with the employers involved.

''Numbers are climbing consistently now,'' Khun Anuchon said. ''Before the Songkran holiday, we would have one or two people a week.

''Now there are eight to 10 a day.''

Khun Anuchon said the small tour operators were suffering the most so far.

Phuketwan has also learned that some large Phuket resorts already have upl, or unpaid leave, as standard for all staff. It can amount to several days each month.

Some resorts offer additional English lessons or skills upgrades to prevent boredom. With few guests and little to do, boredom is a new problem.

Almost every resort is undergoing a phased approach to deal with the deep economic uncertainty.

While the majority would like to keep as many staff as possible, pressures will mount if revenues decline beyond acceptable forecasts.

At that point, even the most sympathetic managers will be forced to retrench staff.

Patong is the single exception, with resorts there mostly still reporting relatively healthy occupancy figures.

In some other parts of Thailand, the outlook is far worse.

Caddies at the island's golf courses are mostly sub-contractors, who rely on at least one job a day or at worst one every second day to make ends meet.

All the caddies are women, and many enjoy the lifestyle because only working four or five hours at a time enables them to attend to other tasks, relying for income on a small set fee and a tip from the golfer.

Now caddies are struggling to earn a living, much as they were almost five years ago, after the 2004 tsunami.

The difference between then and now is that 2005 was a much worse year than 2008 and 2009 are likely to be, but there was certainty back then that business would trend upwards and recover.

While tourism was badly affected, the sympathy of the world rode with Phuket and the property market provided an economic crutch for the island's rehabilitation.

There is no crutch this time and the difficulty is that nobody can say for sure yet when Phuket's pain will end, and when the only way will be up.

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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Let's face it, without Tourism what does Thailand have? Not a lot! Without the tourist the property market cannot prosper and the property market goes a long way in keeping the economy buoyant. Maybe it's about time the Thai Government changed its policy regarding foreign ownership ... it's obvious who is spending the big buck, and let foreigners own land and buildings in their own name without have to set up a stupid company. It can be sensibly monitored and restricted to 1 Rai per individual. The attitude of the foreigner taking the land is a lame excuse, their not taking it anywhere and it is foreigners and there investments that keep this country going. With foreigners, their money and investments Thailand would NOT survive. It's time to get real and realise that foreigners are a necessary part of Thailand, its communities and source of income.

Posted by Noddy on May 13, 2009 15:06


I have never really understood why homes and Condos prices are rising in Thailand. Now and in the past they seemed to be priced for only the wealthy. Building these properties must be enormously less expensive than many places in the world due to very cheap labor costs supplies by Burmese laborers. Pay $100,000 to $300,000 US with out financing is beyond the means of most foreigners looking for a 2nd home or retirement in Thailand. Condo Building require 60% Thai ownership 40% can be purchased by foreigners. I am sure this is leaving many units unoccupied.

I just came across a article concerning the real estate market in the USA, and the default of large building in New York and elsewhere.

"Just imagine in a residential market, if there weren't 80 percent loans available for everyone. If everyone had to buy their houses in cash, the values of houses would plummet everywhere," said Dan Fasulo, a managing director at Real Capital Analytics. "That's happening on a massive scale on the commercial side."

AGAIN!! Why are prices rising and staying so high in Thailand where loans are unavailable to Foreigners??? I see new homes and condos targeting foreigners continually be built in Hua Hin, Pattaya, Bangkok, and Phuket. Who is buying them??

It reminded me of my own efforts to buy a nice home or Condo in Thailand. Even with large down payment financing is declined. It these economic times the occupancy rates of new homes and condos targeting foreigners must be extremely high in Thailand. Developers should be putting together financing packages or provide some means whereas making a 100% payment on a house or condo is unnecessary. I know there are ways around it -such as marrying a thai girl and taking a loans with a Thai bank in her name (but will she qualify) probably not and if she does you have to go through a large amount of legal maneuvers to protect yourself in case of domestic squabbles. So back to square one.

Bank of Thailand financing is a joke. You have to borrow at least 10,000,000 baht and pay it back in 10 years. Again not for the average Bloke.

Posted by Soinanai on May 25, 2009 11:25

Tuesday November 29, 2022
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