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Bored With a Billboard?

Sunday, November 25, 2007
THOSE NEAT black and white signs that look so official are probably a useful advertising alternative to billboards for many tourist resorts and property developments.

While the signs actually look as though they are official roadsigns, the neat black and white numbers can be purchased for 10,000 baht a year.

This compares favourably for some purposes with the price of billboards.

A billboard can cost as much 100,000 baht a month, depending on the size and location.

The black and white signs are available through the Highway Department. Requests for a sign are passed to Bangkok for a ruling on whether the sign is appropriate for a particular location.

While billboards are certainly more "in your face" the signs carry authority and can increase the stature of a new destination immediately.

The signs have to be set back from the traffic but they do come with the advantage of being by the roadside. Billboards are generally on private property.

The Chief of the Phuket Highway District, Supasuk Noonsung, said he recognised that there could be too many official-looking signs that caused confusion. So the number of signs was being restricted in some locations.

"The signs are very useful because when visitors come, they will get lost if not for the signs," he said. "We just need to make sure there are never too many of them."

The revenue from the signs goes into Government funds.

Over the years, many visitors have complained about the growing number of billboards on the island and the way advertising in some places detracts from the beauty of Phuket and its views.

However, the Government response has always been that because the billboards are on private land, nothing can be done. There are no laws preserving the natural views across private land.

The rapid growth in the number of billboards on the road from the airport and on the scenic drive around the coast, especially between Surin and Kalim, probably makes some tourists wonder whether the people of Phuket appreciate their island's natural beauty or just want to sell property.

The owner of Itree Digital Printing, Weerasak Naveekarn, helps to produce billboards and has some on his own land.

"I am also concerned to preserve natural beauty," he said. "But at the same time, businesses need promotion and the billboard is an acceptable way of doing that."

He suggested that the existing billboards on the island were probably enough.

Precisely how to establish a Government policy that balances the value of beauty with business requirements seems to be in the too hard tray for now.


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