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Central opts to invest 20 billion baht in Phuket's blue sky future

Phuket Gains 20 Billion Baht Retail, Property Investment as Central Rolls Out New Malls, Condos

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
PHUKET: The Central Group has announced plans to spend 20 billion baht developing shopping malls in three strategic locations across Phuket.

Developments will include ''top-class hotels, luxurious shopping malls, office towers, entertainment venues, quality dining and chic nighttime hangouts.''

The group already owns or manages seven resorts across Phuket. Such a huge new investment can be seen as recognition of Phuket as an international-Thai island-city with tourism on its beaches and reefs.

It opens Phuket to further rapid development as a hub for the Asean region and for investment that extends beyond tourism.

According to the Bangkok Post, the development over seven years would put a shopping mall in Phuket's north, a resort and a mall in the ''western area'' with condos, and roll out the third phase of already-open Central Festival Phuket in Phuket City.

Announcement of the venture is likely to send other Phuket developers and retailers scrambling to revise plans and work out whether Central's ambitious project will affect them.

As one of the largest investors on the island, Central is clearly placing its faith in Phuket - even if the island still has unresolved issues with taxi standover thugs and ingrained corruption.

Tourism is inevitably subject to the vagaries of international economics and to fairly dramatic ups and downs. Phuket remains a one-trick tourist destination, attracting about three million overseas visitors in 2013.

Yet Tos Chirathivat, chief executive director of Central Retail Corporation, is quoted today as saying: ''As an outstanding tourist destination, Phuket's potential for long-term investment has caught the eye of Central Group.

''With an investment strategy conceived to transform Phuket into the dream destination for people all over the world, Central Group aims to fill all the gaps in the island's lifestyle business segment with high-end experiences that include top-class hotels, luxurious shopping malls, office towers, entertainment venues, quality dining and chic nighttime hangouts.

''The 20-billion baht investment, which will span a period of 5-7 years, will offer Phuket's visitors an unparallelled experience and support the government's policy to attract high-end tourists to the island.''

Central already has the large branded department store, Robinson department stores in Phuket City and Patong, HomeWorks, Power Buy, SuperSports, B@S and Tops stores on Phuket.

Seven resorts also dot Phuket under the Centara Grand, Centara Villa and Centara brands. At least one more Centara Grand is already being planned, south of Patong.

Given the size of Central's investment, one would hope their interpretation of Phuket's future promise is based on their own research, not the fake figures that are still being bandied about.

Latest unreal estimates put the number of visitors to Phuket above 11 million for 2013. Arrival and departure figures from Phuket international Airport cast doubts on that number.

With today's announcement coming from Bangkok, it's likely a more detailed explanation of plans will come on Phuket in the next few days.

Comments

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A huge vote of confidence for local investment. Let us hope government can do their part and continue their reigning of certain activities and bodies that can destroy all the opportunity out there.

Posted by Sean on October 23, 2013 08:51

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Feel kind of bittersweet about this. On the one hand it's great for more variety and jobs for the island. On the other hand, will Phuket just become Bangkok with a beach? Hopefully there will be some attempt to give some Southern/local Phuket flavor to these developments.

Posted by Lana on October 23, 2013 09:18

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@ Lena. Phuket is not under as much water as Bangkok.

Posted by RobinS on October 23, 2013 15:49

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Who cares about Central? What we want is another Supercheap!

Posted by Buster on October 23, 2013 15:55

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"Phuket as an international-Thai island-city with tourism on its beaches and reefs." As Phuket is already a province, isn't this a bit of a downgrade? Better a strategy for the whole of the province that benefit's the entire population than just "aims to fill all the gaps in the island's lifestyle business segment with high-end experiences that include top-class hotels, luxurious shopping malls, office towers, entertainment venues, quality dining and chic nighttime hangouts" in the north, the "western area" and near Phuket Town. Is Phuket Town a Town or already a City?

Posted by Alan on October 23, 2013 17:33

Editor Comment:

It may be some time since you visited Phuket, Alan.

Within 10 years, the whole island will be one big Phuket City, with some open spaces but nevertheless, urbanised. Call it a province if you wish.

Perhaps you are thinking of Phuket as it once was? There is no going back. In 20 years, green space will be a rarity.

Central is counting on that happening. Aren't you?

If there is a tap near you marked, ''development,'' perhaps someone left it running on full bore. Too late to turn it off now.

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One would wish this money would be invested in infrastructure, waste and water treatment, electricity supply, restoration of old Phuket-town, improving beach facilities and public buildings... the list is long. Instead its just more squeezing and polluting...

Posted by Jakub on October 23, 2013 19:38

Editor Comment:

Private capital, public responsibility. Central is big enough to insist that Bangkok actually fix some of the Phuket problems that previous governments have done nothing to solve. I hope they do: ''For every baht we spent on Phuket, you must spend two.'' That would be reasonable.

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When was last time I visited Phuket? Last April and a regular visitor during our 5 months in Khao Lak for the last 8 years. So yes I'm very much aware of the development since we first visited when Patong had a nice empty beach, a night market and a couple of Aussie bars. Oh, for the good old days! But that's not the point of my comments. Of, course any investment should be welcomed but surely you would agree it should be for the benefit of the entire province which happens to be an island. Call it a province? It IS a province already. You campaign for change, positive change and I for one would not disagree with that but forgive me if your vision of the entire province, sorry island, becoming just one big urban sprawl is not my idea of change for the better.

Posted by Alan on October 23, 2013 21:15

Editor Comment:

It's not our idea either, Alan. We just report the news. Phuket will be one big city within a decade or so. I am not sure why you would expect us to express an opinion about that, one way or another.For better or for worse, it's inevitable.

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jakub

Why would Central, a private enterprise, feel obliged to invest in infrastructure and restoration work in Phuket City? That is something for the government to do. Weird comment. You also think they should build schools and hospitals?

Posted by christian on October 23, 2013 21:18

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I read this article with nothing but dismay. An already over built & crowded island is to be further developed. It will degenerate even more into an ugly urban sprawl without the infrastructure to support it.

Aren't there already enough shopping malls? Apart from when it is raining, most of those shops remain fairly empty.

Phuket has already lost its charm & if this extensive building & development program is allowed to continue, will lose any appeal that may remain.

Water supply, sewage disposal & rubbish disposal, already a problem of epidemic proportions, will become totally unmanageable.

Posted by Logic on October 23, 2013 22:06

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" I am not sure why you would expect us to express an opinion about that, one way or another." Sorry. You've expressed lots of opinions about Phuket previously.You've expressed opinions on my comments and others. That's what Editors do - as well as reporting the news. When others have said that nothing is going to happen to change Phuket you've classed them as Doomsayers. Sounds to me that the development, sorry that word again but I can't think of a better one, of Phuket into a city is inevitable is your opinion. It's not one I share or hope I ever see.

Posted by alan on October 24, 2013 02:29

Editor Comment:

We hope to save the beaches and reefs, prevent drownings, reduce the road toll, end corruption, promote proper public transport, ease traffic congestion and stop the suffering of the boatpeople. Turning back the irresistible tide of development? Not on our short list, Alan. It would be a futile objective, sad to say. Good luck.

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Qoute : "??Phuket remains a one-trick tourist destination " ;
OK, i'm intrigued, what's a??" one-trick tourist destination " ?

Posted by Offshoreguy on October 26, 2013 19:02

Editor Comment:

Tourism is all Phuket can do. No manufacturing, no IT hub.

one-trick pony
informal chiefly ( US ) a person or thing considered as being limited to only one single talent, capability, quality, etc

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Thanks for enlightening me ...
That's being brutally honest . Sometimes you wonder if people are aware of it.

Posted by Offshoreguy on October 27, 2013 08:29


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