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Phi Phi sign: Does Phuket need Chinese tourists within spitting distance?

Phuket, Phi Phi and Andaman Must Choose Between Chinese and Preserving the Environment

Saturday, March 14, 2015
PHUKET: Signs went up yesterday warning Chinese tourists not to wash their feet in hand-basins at public toilets on the Thai holiday island of Phi Phi.

Soon after, the first tourist was fined 1000 baht for disobeying the rule.

The foot-pas fuss represents just the tippy-toe of the huge issue of whether Chinese tourism is good for Thailand.

Every country where Chinese visit faces issues of behavior. Sadly, Mao's Little Red Book never did tell its adherents how to travel well.

While Phuket continues to shrug off tourists from Europe because of strange and illogical policies on the island's beaches, the huge wave of Chinese expected to replace the Scandinavians, the Germans and the Dutch is now beginning to concern holiday resort owners.

Almost every resort manager on Phuket will have a story about Chinese travellers.

''Oh yes,'' said one today, preferring to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.

''It's a pact with the devil to open the door to those Chinese who come from unsophisticated parts of the country.

''For a start, they will try to pack as many people into rooms as they can.

''I will never forget the group who turned up to breakfast at 6am each morning and stayed until breakfast ended at 10am, eating their way through everything.

''Then they would put some extra food in their pockets to take away.''

The Chinese are not noted for their gentle treatment of the environment, either.

Highly regarded Phuket resort veteran Wichit Na-Ranong, owner of the Indigo Pearl at Nai Yang, recently told the governor and others at a tourism seminar that Phuket must decide carefully what kind of a future it wants.

And that means picking tourists with care.

Back in 2011, Khun Wichit said publicly what everyone was thinking: that Phuket's tourism industry was being destroyed by allowing the beaches to be privatised.

Eventually, the Army reacted and cleared the beaches. Local administrators should keep the beaches clear, but they seem unable to resist the urge to ban all chairs but permit a little business.

Earlier this month, Khun Wichit's sage-like message was different, and specifically about Chinese tourism.

''If tourists come and destroy the environment while they are here, are they tourists that Phuket wants?'' he asked the audience, which included the governor.

''If tourists come who are noisy and badly behaved, are they tourists that Phuket wants?

''It really is time for Phuket to set straight what kind of a future it chooses to have, and to make sure that the tourists who are being invited to come here fit in with that future.''

The Q question about ''quality'' tourists is yet another Phuket issue that has been put aside as being too hard by the island's harried administrators.

Whether Phuket wishes to draw jet-ski and parasail riders or people who leave only their footprints in the sand remains the big, unanswered Q question.

The neighboring provinces of Krabi and Phang Nga have considered the issue and made wise, environmentally-friendly decisions.

Keep the sands clear of commerce. Ban all the jet-skis and parasailers. Allow beach chairs and BYO umbrellas. Simple.

Putting feet in hand-basins is a metaphor for Phuket, Phi Phi and the Andaman region: one destination doesn't fit all.

You have the freedom to choose your friends. It's about time Phuket chose its friends and its future more carefully.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


My sentiments exactly. Well said PW. Now if only the Gov would heed these sage words.

Posted by Scudman on March 14, 2015 08:45


Your reporting is beyond atrocious. And very biased. How many Chinese were here 2o years ago? Was it the Chinese that came in their millions or 100's of thousands? that contaminated beaches, the environment? The simple answer is no. It was mainly local Thais (especially Koh Phi Phi, though not restricted to to just Koh Phi Phi) and various tourists from all over the world... and now the Chinese are being blamed for it? Disgraceful reporting from a NUJ INUJ reporter. I feel ashamed that you could condone such absolute nonsense!

Posted by Michael on March 14, 2015 09:20

Editor Comment:

I recommend you have a nap, reread the article, and actually think about what's being said. Your version is nothing like it - beyond atrocious, I'd say.


I already banned Chinese from my business ... the give nothing and take everything.. I've never been in china and will never go...

Posted by Frog on March 14, 2015 10:16


For families with White-Asian children Chinese tourists are in general much more friendly than Europeans such as Russians for instance. Also when comparing behaviours we should not exclude the frequentation of girlie bars in the red light districts etc. Then it is also a matter of personal preferences : between feet in hand-basins at public toilets and exhibited tattoos, personally it is those tattoos that I dislike the most.

Posted by Anonymous on March 14, 2015 10:17

Editor Comment:

All countries have ''girlie bars'' or an equivalent, including Thailand.


My guess is that the Thai tourist industry is short sighted at the moment (and maybe been too long) and only see the Chinese and other "newcomers" on the tourist market as fast cash. The earlier cash cow in form of real Quality tourists (here I mean quality before quantity= less people spend the same amount of money) are gone and replaced with tourism in mass numbers. To solve this ,what I see a downslope for Phuket, is not easy without a consistent and common effort. TAT is one big actor in the game and choose where to promote Phuket for example but is Phuket ready, or want, that chosen tourist clientele?

Posted by Joe on March 14, 2015 10:47


In red light places discretion and vulgarity are mutually exclusive

Posted by Anonymous on March 14, 2015 10:49


Excellent article and so true. What people need to understand is that there are certain people who are making a LOT of money from the Chinese tourists. Just look at all those businesses on the new road from the university to the Honda garage in Wichit.

Spas, shops, even a latex mattress shop, all owned by the tour operators and only for Chinese (yes, I did try and go in one and was refused entry)

Losing the Q tourists is definitely bad for phuket long term, and bad for the large number of small businesses owned by locals.

Large numbers of low quality tourists are extremely good news for those that run the large businesses catering to them, and also the jetski and parasail businesses who have a ready stream of willing customers.

Unfortunately this is a downward spiral, the more low quality ones that come, the fewer high quality will want to come, until all that is left is mass market package tourists. By that time the small businesses will all be bust and the couple of large ones will be totally dominant.

A terrible shame for the population of phuket in general. Not being a doomsayer, but I believe the tipping point has passed already and the change for worst will continue to its inevitable conclusion.

Posted by Discover Thainess on March 14, 2015 11:36

Editor Comment:

Greed and selfishness, still the key character traits in a few - but not all - rich Phuketians. Some large foreign-owned businesses are easy converts, too.


To Micheal.....Being a resident in Patong for 15 years and prior to that a visitor for 11 years I have never ever seen anyone stand at the water's edge and urinate into the sea...on Thursday morning while walking early along Patong Beach there were 4 chinese guys just ever so casually relieving themselves into the Sat there were 2 Russians doing the same ....And yes I can tell different ethnic groups....I think your remark "atrocious reporting" is away out of fact I think u should just blow it out your b..t and open your eyes and get out and about a little more....I have been walking Patong Beach for many years way before the cleaners come on duty....I have never seen so much rubbish....r u going to blame that on the few Western European tourists or be honest and lay it at the feet of those who do it

Posted by Steve Patong on March 14, 2015 11:45


It is clear that you are a mainlander. You see after several thousands years and various dynasties you're still not ready (?).

Posted by Sam on March 14, 2015 12:32


@ Discover Thainess. What you describe is absolutely true. Unfortunately I also foresee the end of phukets charm that westerners and earlier tourists enjoyed. Obviously the way of making money that the Thai tourist business do now seems to suit the Chinese and the market changes from micro to macro. Phuket is on a way not chosen by local small businesses. Greed ruins again and the grabbers just love the Chinese way of having a holiday on a former paradise island = quick in and out of 3 shops a day, a piss, smoke and a jetski ride on the beach followed by a tuk tuk ride for 30 min for 2000 baht to a view point where a prepared pick nick is served.

Posted by Joe on March 14, 2015 12:47

Wednesday July 17, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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