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Phuket keeps expanding too rapidly for infrastructure to keep up

Phuket Boom: Time to Hit the 'Pause' Button

Saturday, June 26, 2010
STOP building hotels. That's the simple message for Phuket from the chairman of the Phuket Chamber of Commerce, Dr Sirichai Silparacha, who has a sense of where the island has come from and where it might be going.

''I know we can't stop,'' he said. ''People are free to do as they wish with property. But it really would make economic sense to stop, and only build more if there was a genuine need in the market for more.''

Not only would it make economic sense, Dr Sirichai believes, it would also give the government a chance to catch up with the infrastructure, something that never seems to be possible because of Phuket's continuing rapid growth. ''It's not easy to manage,'' he says.

He sees Phuket's modern history in a series of fast forward movements. 1977 marked the ''discovery'' of Phuket as an exotic, off-the-beaten track tourist destination. By 1992 it could rightly be regarded as the Pearl of the Andaman, perhaps at its best as a place of great beauty with coral reefs and glorious beaches. By 1997 Phuket was an international destination, with money for investment flowing in fast. By 2007 Phuket had grown to the point where it needed to be viewed as ''Greater Phuket'' and seen as a hub with Phang Nga and Krabi coming into their own for the desirable natural beauty that was once Phuket's.

Dr Sirichai believes that the cluster development of ''Greater Phuket'' is the best way for making the most of the region's future. The approach being taken on the World Expo 2020 bid seems to endorse that direction. Perhaps 2020 will be the next key date in Dr Sirichai's list of key historical turning points.

He believes the problems associated with public transport on Phuket can be sorted out.

''The people who have the power to organise these things have to sit and talk, thinking about the benefits to the public first and foremost,'' he said. ''Solve the public transport problem and everything becomes easier.''

Each group of tuk-tuks had their own area-based system. ''That really doesn't work,'' he said. ''There is just one island and there should be only one system.

''Unless the transport issue is resolved, Phuket can forget about its long-term tourism future. Forget development, forget progess.

''People don't want to come and find that, from the airport on, their holiday becomes a battle over prices.''

On environmental protection, he said much improvement was needed or the natural advantages of Phuket would be eroded. Those who were responsible for protecting the environment needed to do their job, he said.

On investment from overseas, he said that Phuket needed to attract not just more resorts but also high-technology industries. ''There are already some examples,'' he said. ''There's no reason why Phuket cannot develop greater expertise in this area.''

Phuket also needed a train line, he added, to reduce the cost of transporting goods to the island.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Post this in the next five years and let's see how much has changed, I think nothing will change, the Tuk-tuk challenge is impossible to fix. A train line to Phuket would be perfect but the government in Bangkok does not like to waste their money on any other province. Public transport will help... in 10 year's there will need to be subway's underground, but that will never happen :( There is now too much traffic, and to many, people with no brains in power. It is all down to money, but if people don't use money correctly then nothing will change :)

Posted by Jamie on June 27, 2010 23:34


So we have it officially - you can do whatever you want with your land, ''People are free to do as they wish with property...''

What about the people issuing hotel licences and the approval of planning permission for building resorts, and approval of licences for tuk tuks, taxis and liquor licences?

Clearly the definition of the word government is missing from someone's dictionary as is the word "no"; as in "No, we the authorities do not want any more hotels built at this time."

Posted by Toolbox on June 29, 2010 10:09


Unfortunately in Thailand those greedy businessmen with cash money can buy their ways as their wish.
Lawmakers give right to local law enforcers to appreciate the laws at their conveniences as it is write black on white on Immigration form when we apply for visas.
so any time we hear with officials:
- No, you can not do it but in your case we may be able to help you...blablabla...
- Yes in that case you can do it, but do not worry we may help you...blablabla...
So money is the sole difference of what you can do or not to do.
And it is not going to change for a while.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on June 29, 2010 11:57


If the National govt would properly fund the police..
Graft is ingrained out of necessity. Change the mode.

Posted by Ripley on July 4, 2010 16:38

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