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Scene from a new Phuket resort: is it time for an 'amnesty'?

Phuket 'Amnesty' Call to Halt All New Resorts

Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Today's Updating Report

THE GOVERNOR is investigating the possibility of banning the building of more resorts on Phuket. He says the emphasis should be on a balance with nature, and homestays to limit the pressure on reefs and beaches.

Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob made his wishes known at a meeting at Provincial Hall in Phuket City with key players in tourism and commerce on Phuket.

His term for the process was an ''amnesty.''

Is there a chance it could really happen? Well, the governor is having all potential forms of stopping future resort development on Phuket investigated.

He said the problem was not just the pressure on the environment, but also the growing number of resorts that had to share the income from tourists, with the number of tourists not growing nearly fast enough to fill all the beds.

Figure from the Tourism Authority of Thailand show that Phuket in 2009 had 639 resorts and other registered forms of accommodation with a total of 38,528 rooms. This has grown in 2010 to 708 resorts, guesthouses etc with 43,000 rooms.

More resort general managers are complaining that although Phuket arrival and departure passenger figures remain quite strong, the share of the tourism ''pie'' is now spread too thinly. The same principle applies to ancillary services, including dive operations, tours and spas.

Added to the imbalance is a dramatic increase in the number of villas and villa-condo resorts that rent out to tourists without necessarily being registered with the TAT.

Today Governor Wichai called together representatives from the TAT, the Tourist Association, the Thai Hotels Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation and key Phuket businesspeople.

While the national laws governing property and its use could not be changed to deal with Phuket's special problems, there were ways the island could bring in an ''amnesty'' of its own, the meeting heard. More discussions are to take place to try to solve the issues.

Opponents of the suggestion at the meeting pointed out that it would represent a double standard for people who had already bought land with the intention of building resorts.

''Why is Phuket not looking at the big picture?'' said Dr Sirichai Silparcha, Chairman of the Phuket Chamber of Commerce. ''We certainly need to slow down.''

Dr Silparcha made his views known recently in an interview with Phuketwan. ''If Phuket cannot control its economy, the economy will control Phuket,'' he said today.

The suggestion of some kind of amnesty or moratorium on building resorts on Phuket is bound to cause differences of opinion among the pro-environment and the pro-development lobbies.

The Chief Executive of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation, Paiboon Upatising, said the proposed moratorium needed to be looked at carefully because a wrong move could destroy Phuket's image as a safe place to invest.

Given the lack of restraint on the speed of development, observers say there is little that can be done in practical terms to prevent Phuket rapidly becoming a largely urban hub for tourists heading to less developed parts of the neighboring provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi, and offshore islands.

The likelihood is that within 20 years, the pressure of ever-increasing numbers of tourists will have destroyed most of the coral reefs and made the beaches too crowded for some tastes.

The tourism cavalcade may have moved on . . . leaving many resorts wondering how to fill their rooms.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


We really do have to give Khun Wichai credit. He just does not stop trying!

Posted by donmphkt on July 14, 2010 17:55


A wise decision to stop the constructions on phuket island. ALL constructions should be stopped, look what happens with the island. All the landslides and the nature !!! In 10 years Phuket would have no mountains anymore; but resorts, resorts, resorts and condominiums which are not needed at all !!!

Posted by expat on July 14, 2010 19:58


I believe the proper term is moratorium

Posted by Pm on July 14, 2010 21:54


Careful thought needed here please. Note the Governor will be off around October and a new one will take over. Will all these well intentioned rules change again then? Phuket needs planning and consistency... in a realistic framework.

Posted by Duncan on July 14, 2010 21:55


The resorts should be slowed down, but what about all the vacant and ugly shop houses that are scattered around the island. Its looking more and more vagrant with all these empty buildings. Travelling down to Rawai today I must have seen 50 vacant shop houses.

Ugly and unnecessary

Posted by Tbs on July 14, 2010 22:27


It's about time to take some action to stop building, especially in tourist areas. Patong, Karon, Kata, Nai Harn Rawai, Chalong, Kamala, Surin Cherng Talay. Ten years ago there was more nature in the whole of south Phuket than ten years after, for no needs. The brand Phuket will disappear if it does not retain its quality. What about Mallorca? They went down a big hole, too many buildings and too little nature.

Posted by Thomas on July 15, 2010 10:45


Agree 100%, but should be done immediately without any further delay . We are already late in thinking about this.

Posted by JAVED on July 15, 2010 13:23


Singapore and Maldives are two nearby countries which deliver new construction permits once a year only when all hotels are sure to be at 80 percent capacity to ensure they are profitable.
TAT does not deliver new licenses for sea-walking businesses. Why not planning in the same way for dive businesses, speed-boat and powered boat tour companies, tour companies and so on...

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 15, 2010 16:50

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