PHUKET: The killing of the Phuket International Convention and Exhibition Centre project has been confirmed with angry Phuket MPs and tourism industry officials attacking ''government lies''.
Some say it's a sign that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, like many before her, is only interested in Phuket for the revenue from tourism and will not spend on essential infrastructure.
Insiders now acknowledge that without real investment, Phuket's future appeal to tourists is becoming short-term and increasingly uncertain.
The revelation that Cabinet cancelled the Phuket Convention and Exhibition Centre at its meeting on October 2 comes on a day when plans were announced for Pattaya to gain a 10 billion baht private ''superpark.''
Phuket has lived in hope of obtaining the conference and exhibition centre for two decades. Now it is going to Chiang Mai.
In Singapore, where a Phuket team is selling Phuket to neighboring countries at ITB Asia, Bhuritt Maswongsa, Vice President of the Phuket Tourism Association, said the axing of the 2.6 billion baht project was ''another sign that this government really doesn't care.''
In Parliament in Bangkok yesterday, Phuket Democrat Opposition MPs Anchalee Thepabutr and Rewat Areerob accused the government of breaking its promises and misleading the people of Phuket.
''Having the centre vanish is a huge loss to Phang Nga and Krabi as well as Phuket,'' Khun Anchalee said. ''The whole of the Andaman will suffer.''
The commitment in March by PM Yingluck Shinawatra and Cabinet to the centre and a large number of much-needed Phuket infrastructure projects appears to be diminishing as each week passes.
In Singapore, Khun Bhuritt said: ''The government seems to ignore the three elements that Phuket's tourist future requires - safety, security and sustainability.
''Phuket is one of the most important provinces in Thailand when it comes to driving revenue but we number about 77th - at the very bottom - when it comes to the government spending on infrastructure.''
Analysts and insiders Phuketwan spoke to today agreed that the blue-sky optimism of Phuket's boosters was based on ignorance, not facts.
''It's true that the number of incoming tourists continues to rise for now,'' said Khun Bhuritt. ''But so does the unsolved mountain of garbage and the water pollution problem at Phuket beaches.''
He neglected to add lack of a public transport system and the chronic high taxi and tuk-tuk fares that continue to force locals and visitors to use their own motorcycles and cars to gridlock Phuket roads.
Even former Democrat Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva - no help to Phuket when it comes to essential infrastructure - went on Facebook to criticise his replacements for failing to back the convention centre.
''Those who see Phuket as a thriving place with a certain future are ignoring the tell-tale signs,'' Khun Bhuritt said.
''National governments have constantly failed Phuket. The shifting of the conference and exhibition centre to Chiang Mai is yet another warning: short-term political gains eventually come at a cost.''
Informed observers see the advent of the Asean economic community in 2015 as the point at which lack of strategy and unsustainability is likely to end Phuket's run as a popular international holiday destination, especially with pristine Burma emerging so fast as a low-cost nearby alternative.
''Singapore is such a wonderful example to Phuket,'' Khun Bhuritt said. ''Everything done here is aimed at efficiency and sustainability. But it's a model that the national government in Thailand continues to ignore.''