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Phuket May Lose Aussies if $A Dive Dips Deeper

Thursday, June 20, 2013
News Analysis

PHUKET: More Australians may stay home and not take holidays on Phuket if the dramatic drop in the $A today sets the pattern for lower levels.

One of Australia's leading newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald, reported: ''The days of cheap overseas travel and attractive online prices are over, leading economists say.

''With the Australian dollar falling to a 33-month low on Thursday, travel and online retail prices are expected to soar immediately.''

This means that many Australians who were planning to holiday on Phuket or in Thailand, will seek a better deal for their devalued $A elsewhere.

The sudden drop in the value of the $A combined with rising prices on Phuket and the extortionate fares of tuk-tuk and taxi drivers make Phuket less attractive.

One expert predicted travel expenses for Australians heading overseas to rise by 10 percent: ''Travel is the most instantaneous thing to go up.''

The Australian dollar has already lost more than 10 percent of its value against the US dollar since early May, when it was trading at 103 US cents. Today it's around 92 cents.

Australians have a growing fondness for Phuket, being the first nationality to provide help and to return as tourists to Phuket after the 2004 tsunami.

Since then, the number of Australian visitors has continued to grow steadily before being overtaken recently by Chinese, with Russian numbers also growing fast.

Phuket tourism relies on diversity and a commitment to tourists from any one country usually is viewed as a bad sign. It means that if that country's economy sours, Phuket also suffers.

Beyond the debate about the need for ''quality'' tourists the beauty of the Phuket travel market has been its ability to attract visitors from many sources, offering increasing stability.

Whether Phuket can continue to grow rapidly without damaging its beaches and coral reefs - and its enduring appeal - raises the key issue of sustainability.

Comments

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"Australians have a growing fondness for Phuket, being the first nationality to provide help and to return as tourists to Phuket after the 2004 tsunami" Alan is this your heart speaking as I think a few other nationalities would claim they were the first?

Posted by Donating Farang on June 20, 2013 14:25

Editor Comment:

I was around at the time and the Australians responded first because they'd been training after the Bali bombings for just such a disaster. They led the way both in terms of organising the international aid effort and organising the body ID process - both with Thai involvement, of course. Other nations were quick but not first. Nothing to do with my heart, which disappeared a long time ago.

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It is still 28.5 baht to the dollar, the baht seems to be dropping also, 28.5 is still good in my book, for a long time it was 24 to the dollar and as low as 22, I don't think there will be to much impact, when you want to holiday, you just do it, sounds a bit like a nike add!

Posted by coxo on June 20, 2013 16:46

Editor Comment:

A three-year low, a fall of almost three cents overnight . . . let's hope it doesn't happen again anytime soon.

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Good! if i had a choice between a bus load of Chinese/Koreans or a bus load of pissed up Aussies i know who would get my vote. I've had a belly full of "Yeah mate" I dont know if its just the worst of the worst Aussies that we get here in Phuket but it certainly seems that way. I know its not good to generalize but thats just how is see most of the Australians here. They leave a country where they get pissed and create a fuss and then get on a plane (board shorts,wife beaters, thongs check) and get pissed and create havoc here?? Are they being misconstrued? unfairly branded? i dont think so. Their behaviour attests to their lack of care and decency for Thai culture. Look at what Aussie tourism has done for Bali? Nice...Phukets next
I know the ED will not like my sentiments (being from the motherland) but this is an open forum and my opinion only.
Tom

Posted by Tom on June 20, 2013 17:40

Editor Comment:

I am a citizen of the world who happens to come from Australia, Tom. As readers know, we've roundly condemned the behavior of some individual Australians in the past and will do so again. There is a problem when people from particular nations bring their bad habits with them. It is especially sad to see men with no shirts on shopping in stores that are many kilometres from the beach. Clearly, many people go on holidays with no regard for the culture of the country they are visiting.

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Tom, you are clearly rather ignorant. Perhaps you only frequent places with loads of loud, drunk and obnoxious people around like the party destinations of Phuket.

As an Australian just recently returned from my 11th trip to Phuket in the last 7 years I can tell you if all of Phuket was like that I would never come and certainly wouldn't spend the considerable amount of money in that local economy that I do. I very rarely see that from anyone on Phuket as there are so many other great things to do instead.

As for why you see more Australians in those areas, well given the article refers to more Australians travelling to Phuket than anyone else until recently it only leads to the obvious statistical conclusion than more Aussies would be at the drinking partying destinations in Phuket than any other nationality. Have a look at your own nationality whatever it is, if you don't find the same elements in that society you are just kidding yourself.

If you don't want Australians like myself there then good luck mate, life will get a bit tougher. Maybe you could replace us with more package tourists. See how that works out for you.

Now to the heart of the actual story, I fear this may be an issue for people travelling to Phuket from Australia. Over the last few years as the exchange rate has improved in the AUD THB exchange rate the not insignificant price rises have been somewhat hidden. The rate went from about 28 to 30 to 33 baht if I recall and this 10 - 20% exchange rate difference was a huge buffer.

Phuket is not a cheap place and, due to all those well documented problems, is going to be on a par as a cost destination but way behind on experience based on services like transport very soon.

Posted by Darren on June 20, 2013 22:36

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Ah god old quantitative easing a bit of Karma for the tuk-tuk mob plus more room on the airport bus for us,just think fewer beer swilling belching farting tattooed uncouth Australians and that's just their women that's all the better for us and the Chinese and Koreans .I bet you don't put this in Mr Ed

Posted by Scunner on June 20, 2013 22:58

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Australia first there after the big wave helping with resources manpower medical & a cheque book didnt mind us then now we are beer swilling wife beating board short an thong wearing uncouth penal colonists what a grateful lot you all are,I can only assume you saw crocodile dundee & expect kangaroos to greet you at sydney airport & this is your misguided vision of Australians and Australia as a sterotype
enjoy your Phuket vacation we assisted to rebuild it so you could have your lovely vacation.

Posted by slickmelb on June 21, 2013 09:01

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Hey Tom, I am very glad we receive the best England has to offer in Thailand, Bald heads, tattoo's, in big groups only looking for fights and most importantly, knee high socks in sandals!

Posted by coxo on June 21, 2013 12:51


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