''We need this project on Phuket but from what we've been hearing, it is becoming less likely to be built here,'' said Bhuritt Maswongsa, Vice President of the Phuket Tourism Association and a man who usually has his ear close to the ground.
Despite the mobile Cabinet meeting on Phuket earlier this year when Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra offered encouragement to future Phuket infrastructure, there has been no formal endorsement or funding for the convention centre.
With Chiang Mai in the heartland of Thailand's ''red'' zone and Phuket still very much a ''yellow'' stronghold, the fear is that the project will go north.
''In strictly financial terms, it's difficult for the government to justify building the centre on Phuket,'' Khun Bhuritt told Phuketwan. ''They need the centre to earn two or three billion baht within three years of opening.
''Phuket International Airport is already bursting at the seams. It is simply not possible to increase the flow of tourists to Phuket any faster. Chiang Mai is the logical alternative, economically and politically.''
Such a move would shock resort brands to the north of Phuket where the exhibition project has been anticipated with glee.
''Phuket may well have to consolidate and improve the value of its appeal,'' Khun Bhuritt said. ''The better the product, the more value Phuket will have without the need to constanty boost numbers.''
Phuket's bid for the 2.6 billion baht project that would go on low-lying land not far from Mai Khao in Phuket's north is bogged down in the Finance Department, awaiting approval. Environmental considerations also have yet to be resolved.
The Director of the Regional Treasury, Phuket, Tamrong Tongtan, says nothing more has been heard about the Phuket centre for months and there was no guarantee it would go through.
Khun Bhuritt says Phuket may be better off concentrating energy on developing the ''Romance Road'' north through Phang Nga province to Ranong, on the border with Burma, and south to Satun.
Enhancing the road would provide tourists with a green route through some of Thailand's most appealing countryside.