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Phuket's beauty is being threatened by ugliness and greed

Billboards or Beauty: TAT Chief Calls for Summit Masterplan

Thursday, March 20, 2008
THE DIRECTOR of the local branch of the Tourism Authority of Thailand has called for a summit meeting to deal with mounting problems associated with tourism and development on Phuket.

She believes it's time for local authorities and interested parties to reach consensus on the need to retain Phuket's key product, its beauty.

Suwalai Pinpradab, who heads the southern office, Region 4, oversees TAT activities in Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi, and has just returned from ITB Berlin, the world's largest annual travel trade fair.

''We need a masterplan to keep Phuket as an international destination,'' she told Phuketwan.

Khun Suwalai says Phuket was well-represented and made a positive impression at the fair, and the three provinces in the so-called Andaman cluster have ''done very good business.''

The coming 2008-2009 high season, she says, already has attracted plenty of advance bookings, especially in Khao Lak.

''They are almost fully booked,'' she says.

Flights from Zurich in Switzerland will be coming direct to Phuket during the green season and scheduled flights will also be operating direct from Sweden to Phuket for the first time during that period, she says.

The Governor of Phuket and the presidents of the three provinces' Tourist Business Associations were among the region's representatives at the big Berlin travel trade fair.

But Khun Suwalai said there were problems associated with the way Phuket presented itself to visitors.

''We have to take care of our product,'' she says. ''It's very important right now.''

She noted the growing number of roadside billboards and the cutting down of trees as two of the present problems that created the wrong image of Phuket.

''I think Phuket has the most billboards in the world compared to other tourist destinations,'' she says. ''They cover the beauty of the island.''

She also believes that the island needs more trees, especially in areas where development has led to many of them being cut down.

''On the Bypass Road, for example, we should have more trees,'' she says.

She agreed that beach encroachment by private businesses posed a problem, too.

''Every responsible body should meet to discuss how Phuket can lift its standards to those of other international destinations,'' she says.

''Right now, Phuket has many problems.

''It's time for us all to get together. We need to have shared aims and all do things the same way.''

Khun Suawalai's call for a summit and a masterplan echoes similar comments made earlier this year by Ongart Chanachanmongkol, head of the Phuket Natural Resources and Environment Department.

He says Phuket's inability to dispose of all the garbage created by the island's inhabitants also needs a common approach if it is to be solved.

Too many authorities and other groups make their own decisions without co-ordination, he told Phuketwan.

A total of 19 local government bodies oversee Phuket's garbage: nine Tessaban, nine OrBorTor and one OrBorJor. They each manage waste problems in their own way.

There is no one, shared method, Khun Ongart says.

As a result, systems vary from one part of the island to another, with what happens in Patong bearing no relationship to what happens in Phuket City.

Similar issues of lack of co-ordination affect billboards, development, beach encroachment and the way Phuket presents itself to visitors.

Related Article: A Tsunami of Trash is Heading Phuket's Way

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Thursday December 9, 2021
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