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Central plans a 20-billion baht shoppers' paradise for 20 million tourists

Central to Spend 20b Baht in Phuket

Monday, August 10, 2015
PHUKET: The Central Group revealed a 20 billion baht plan at the weekend to make Phuket a shopping and lifestyle paradise to attract visitors from all over South East Asia.

The 111-rai project includes the largest aquarium in the region, a botanical gardens to rival Singapore's, a luxury hotel and a luxury lifestyle mall aimed at becoming the ''playground of South-East Asia.''

Keen competition can be expected, though, from The Mall Group's Blu Pearl Plaza project, announced last year across 150 rai just down the road from the existing Central Festival Phuket.

Both projects include international-standard conference and exhibition centres.

According to Central at the weekend, Phuket can be expected to attract 20 million visitors within the next five years.

Both the high-end projects may be based on over-exuberant estimates of the number of travellers that Phuket can attract and absorb.

For years, Phuketwan has kept tabs on the Airports of Thailand figures for Phuket International Airport. At the end of the year, the total number of arrivals and departures will amount to about 12.5 million, which is about as many as the one-runway facility can handle.

Cut that total passenger coming-and-going figure in half and you have approximately the number of people arriving on the holiday island by air this year - 6.25 million.

Now, it could be that Central knows something Phuketwan doesn't about Phuket's future.

But even if Phuket attracts an extraordinary number of tourists arriving by car, by bus and by cruise ship, a figure of 20 million tourists within the next five years seems to stretch credibility.

If both these extraordinary projects go ahead, we predict a very intense struggle between the big players for customers with money to spend.

Plainly, existing outlets such as Jungceylon in Patong would need to reinvent themselves to hold and grow market share among high-end shoppers.

What Wanlaya Jirathiwat, the Deputy Chairman of Central Development, revealed about the group's plan for Phuket is mouthwatering, if shopping is your thing.

Phase I involves the renovation of the existing Central Festival Phuket into the island's ''Dining Destination.''

Phase II brings construction of the new Central Phuket on the 111 rai opposite the existing building. To be completed in 2018, that part of the project includes luxury lifestyle shopping, with high end international brands, the biggest aquarium in South-East Assia, and a botanicial gardens to rival Singapore's.

Phase III includes a five or six-star hotel and an international standard high-capacity conference and exhibition centre.

Such a facility was also proposed last year for the Mall Group's development, which will spill across 150 rai down from Billionaire Plaza, just a stone's throw from the Tesco-Lotus supermarket, which before the turn of the century was the biggest innovation for the island's shoppers.

If neither of the big groups backs away or modifies its plans, resident shoppers and visiting tourists can expect some great bargains.

And the addition of two luxury lifestyle complexes, extending over kilometres, can only be good for Phuket's tourism prospects . . . even if present calculations on numbers are unlikely to be fulfilled in a hurry.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


What about that 6 years old concrete skeleton in front of present Central Festival, at the traffic junction?
Anyone who can shine light on that?

Posted by Kurt on August 10, 2015 15:21


The photo is misleading, it shows like it is in the garden city Singapore.
Around shown area is not a single tree to see. Phuket authorities only cut trees, and locals are free to do as well. Phuket more and more get 'de-forest'. The is on Phuket not such strategy as 're planting'.

Posted by Kurt on August 10, 2015 15:35

Editor Comment:

You may have missed the phrase ''botanical gardens'' in the article.


the 111-rai area includes so many different things, that a botanical Garden never can rival Singapore's botanical garden. A 'life style botanical garden' should not be planned at that location.
Another matter, more and more is Phuket going soon or later approaching the moment that the lack of normal public transportation ( like in Singapore, as Singapore was mentioned)) will fire back on Phuket's already bad image regarding such.

Posted by Kurt on August 10, 2015 15:57


Personally, I think their plans are laughable.

Especially the 6 star hotel. If anyone has stayed at a Centara, 2 AA stars max

As for Jungceylon, they don't need to do anything. Anything done in Phuket town, really won't affect anything in Patong. People are too lazy to travel, especially to another boring Shopping centre.

Posted by Tbs on August 10, 2015 16:05

Editor Comment:

You're too cynical, Tbs. There are plenty of tourists for whom shopping is a way of life, and having come to Phuket a short trip across the island won't prevent them wandering another mall with the promise of something different - especially if it's raining.


I already wrote about that proposed botanical garden, Mr Editor.
I am sure you know about the famous Singapore botanical garden. That location is far away from Singapore shopping complexes, and by law it ever will be. it can be reached by good, clean airconditioned public transport.

Posted by Kurt on August 10, 2015 16:06

Editor Comment:

Broken record playing here, Kurt. Broken record playing here, Kurt. Broken record pl . . .


Phuket was a beach/scuba diving paradise. But this moment it is not.
It looks like Phuket likes to transform it selves in a shopping paradise.( perhaps because of the increasing number of Chinese tourists?). But that is a 'time wave'. Such comes and goes.
Phuket has to steady on working hard to make the island a clean, safe, environmental friendly en good public transport Beach paradise. That only can be realized if Phuket authorities give a ear to what tourists want.

Posted by Kurt on August 10, 2015 16:15


I might live in a parallel universe but where are all these high roller shopaholics going to come from? Most of my Thai friends are lucky if they can shop at super-cheap. Most Aussies, Brits and other tourists are looking for cheaper holiday destinations, not high end malls which are available at home. If I go to a tropical island famous for its beaches, the last thing I want to see is a giant shopping mall.

Why not build a 111 rai park and gardens where rich or poor could visit and enjoy? No profits in that of course and as we know profit is the very soul of some people's existence. I guess the owners of Central are not rich enough yet.

Posted by Arun Muruga on August 10, 2015 18:08


These statistics are fantastical. Why people won't stick to factual statistics and realistic extrapolations is beyond me. It's the mis-information that so many companies put out there about tourism arrivals that fuel further the overdevelopment. The worse culprits of all are island officials. Shame on them.

Posted by Duncan on August 10, 2015 21:32


This build madness is not just Phuket - also in Korat - & I am sure elsewhere. But it simply makes no sense when (in the case of Korat) many shops are closing in the malls with units sitting empty for prolonged periods. Why build more to sit empty?

It kind of mirrors the large numbers of shopping units built around the island (Patong, Kata, Karon, etc.) which have remained closed until they became derelict eyesores. It is a decaying concrete jungle - quite unnecessary if proper planning & building controls were put in place.

Posted by Logic on August 10, 2015 21:55


Anyone who lives here, or has spent any length of time on the island will have seen the 3D images of new housing projects/condo developments which are produced prior to building.

They always show trees, shrubs, planting schemes in and around the designs which makes you think 'wow...that's going to look really nice'. The reality however is that once they are built, they never look anything like it and I suspect the same will apply here.

Good luck though Mr. Central!!! I suppose all the Chinese tour groups will love the high end shopping experience.

Posted by Mike on August 10, 2015 22:52

Editor Comment:

Except there are at present a maximum of 6.5 million international and domestic tourists arriving by air, and the prospects of that figure rising to 20 million within five years are extremely remote.



I am completely with you in your assessment of feeling of an average Centara brand hotel...


Also I agree, it is very strange when people tarvel from Patong to Central festival to find virtually the same as in Jungceylon ))
Or to take an effort to travel to Naka Temple Weekend Market instead of going to Bukkit Market )))

Posted by Sue on August 11, 2015 00:05


""resident shoppers and visiting tourists can expect some great bargains"" .. Or may be the biggest retailer group could do like Bangkok International Hospital: own all the facilities to not have competition. In fact the price in International Hospital in 5 years are more than double..

Posted by dave on August 12, 2015 00:49

Editor Comment:

Are you sure prices have doubled, Dave, or are you misreading something? We've had assurances from people at the hospital that ownership by the same group will produce a redistribution of services but no increases in rates. In any case, the takeover only occurred last year so whatever rises happened before then cam about in your preferred competitive environment . . . .


We forget the King Power mega complex nearing completion on Chaofa Road.. this alone can accommodate thousands of shoppers, mainly chinese..

Posted by rich on August 12, 2015 00:52

Editor Comment:

Is 20 billion baht being spent, rich? Central and The Mall are clearly in a league of their own.


remark to phase one :let us hope that within this renovation they also clear the ugly construction ruin which is just in front of central festival.and by the way there are more than 50 other construction ruins all over phuket which should be removed.

Posted by beach fan on August 12, 2015 09:22

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