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Boosting Phuket with false figures only damages tourism

Tourism Numbers Must Not Be Exaggerated

Sunday, June 10, 2012
News Analysis

PHUKET: The number of passengers coming and going through Phuket International Airport continued to rise in May, with an upward surge of 12.83 percent compared with the same month last year.

However, other figures deserve closer scrutiny this week. And those figures need to be questioned.

The Kasikorn Research Centre claimed in a report that Phuket could welcome 7.4 million tourist arrivals this year, and that tourism would generate 140 billion baht in revenue.

Of the 7.4 million visitors, 86 percent would be from overseas, the centre said.

We are unable to find any reliable source that predicts anything like those kinds of statistics. We humbly suggest the centre either justifies its calculations, or apologises for getting it wrong.

Phuket had about two million overseas visitors last year, and can expect perhaps between two million and 2.5 million this year.

While Phuket International Airport expects to total more than nine million passengers this year, that number consists of arrivals and departures.

And of those arrivals and departures, approximately half will be Thais, and half will be from overseas.

A quick bit of division will show that nine million divided in half leaves 4.5 million, which is the approximate number of total arrivals.

A quick bit of additional division will show that 4.5 million divided by two leaves 2.25 million, which is the approximate number of arrivals from overseas that Phuket can expect (plus a few more on buses).

The Kasikorn call of 7.4 million tourists, with 86 percent coming from overseas, just does not compute with any statistics we've ever seen.

And if the 7.4 million is about three times what it should be, is the 140 billion baht figure for revenue also three times what it should be?

Kasikorn Research Centre, please explain . . .

What's doubly troubling is that these figures were published without question by several media sources, including a couple of English-language outlets on Phuket.

The reason why this is important is that any media that doesn't question information that is obviously flawed doesn't protect its readers from misinformation.

In the case of these kinds of projections, which come with the imprimatur of a leading bank, potential investors looking to put their money into Phuket will draw the conclusion that Phuket is going to be far more prosperous and profitable than it really is going to be.

This is how holiday destinations become overloaded with resorts that cannot be filled. For this reason, greater logic and rigor is needed all round.

If you're in the media on Phuket and you really have no idea how many international tourists are coming to Phuket and how many could reasonably be expected to come this year, should you be in the media on Phuket?

This projection claimed 86 percent of tourists to Phuket in 2012 would be from overseas, a foolish statement that should have rung alarm bells in every news room.

Instead, Phuket's media - Phuketwan excepted - published the questionable projection in its entirety.

Everybody wants to see Phuket prosper. But spreading information that is not based soundly in reality serves no useful purpose.

We expect the Kasikorn Research Centre to explain, one way or the other, in the near future. Banks clearly rely on and always try to produce factual information.

That said, the centre's accompanying list of six recommendations for Phuket and the Andaman to stay prosperous are sound and sensible.

Domestic passenger numbers bounced back at Phuket International Airport in May, up 13.2 percent. According to the Airports of Thailand figures, there were 633,440 arrivals and departures, with domestic traffic just outnumbering international traffic.

Total flights were up 7.49 percent to 4764.

The AoT figures for May take Phuket International Airport's tally for the year to June 1 to 4,123,691 passenger trips so far, a surefire indication that, barring upheavals, the tally will exceed nine million arrivals and departures by year's end.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


As I proposed a while ago in another article, would it not be a good idea to split the groups of persons, into these groups?
Thai Nationals:
Farang Tourists:
Visa Run Farangs:
This way, we would have a more accurate set of numbers to work with, therefore a better understanding of what is being proposed? This is indeed going to help the people of Phuket. Just normal numbers please?

Posted by DunB on June 10, 2012 12:34

Editor Comment:

The use of the term farang is inappropriate. It should be ''non-Thais.''


Where does Phuketwan get its figures for overseas visitor arrivals to Phuket?

Posted by Kerrie on June 10, 2012 12:42

Editor Comment:

We've often been told by the TAT that Immigration shows Phuket has about two million international visitors. The breakdown, nation by nation, used to be readily available, but is more closely guarded these days because it has commercial value. Phuket airport figures support the TAT's assessment. The airport stats and Immigration are the only raw-data sources.


These research mammoths are totally divorced from reality, and only cause trouble for people trying to plan their business directions, and over-expectant owners of hotels, real estate !

Posted by Ian on June 10, 2012 12:57

Editor Comment:

We don't share your opinion. We also don't support sweeping generalisations of any kind. Bank research centres are interested only in accurate information. This is probably a one-off.


The use of the term farang is inappropriate. It should be ''non-Thais.''

Are you serious? Isn't the legal word, for 'non-Thai', the word 'Alien', in Thailand? ;-]

Posted by ??? on June 10, 2012 16:15

Editor Comment:

I really don't want to go over stuff we've covered more than once but the term ''farang'' applies to people of European extraction and excludes Malaysians, Singaporeans, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and others from Asia. The word ''alien'' is offensive in the 21st century and ''foreigner'' almost as bad. The article is serious, and not about nomenclature.


@ Ed...''foreigner''..Offensive?? How??

"A person born in or coming from a country other than one's own."
You do come out with some doozeys at times..

Posted by davidj949 on June 10, 2012 16:51

Editor Comment:

If you feel like a foreigner, davidj949, you will always be one. What I wrote was: 'The word ''alien'' is offensive in the 21st century and ''foreigner'' almost as bad.' Don't misinterpret my comments.


Bravo for questioning the inflated numbers that are posted each and every month by Kasikorn and also Thai Immigration, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

My question is - when I fly from Khon Kane to Suvarnabhumi and then from Suvarnabhumi to Phuket, how many times am I counted?

Posted by larry on June 10, 2012 17:59

Editor Comment:

Have you read the article, larry? We are not questioning the numbers posted by Thai Immigration, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.


I have always struggled with these figures. Int'l terminal arr/dep is straight forward and easy to count.

Domestic terminal arrivals are not so easy. Mixture of overseas tourists coming down from Bangkok, Thai's, as well as a lot of "non-Thai" folks.

It would be nice to get a better number, but feel it is not going to happen very soon.

BTW, thanks for catching this. When I saw it, I was scratching my head as well.

Posted by GiantFan on June 10, 2012 18:08


Editor Comment:

If you feel like a foreigner, davidj949, you will always be one.

Pray tell, how can you never be a foreigner if you live in a country that is not your birth country?
Unless of course you are one of the very small group who can qualify for Thai citizenship..[very, very small group]
you said foreigner is almost as bad as alien which you say is offensive, then tell me not to misinterpret your words???

Posted by davidj949 on June 10, 2012 18:46

Editor Comment:

''If you feel like a foreigner, davidj949, you will always be one,'' means precisely what it says. So does: 'The word ''alien'' is offensive in the 21st century and ''foreigner'' almost as bad.'

Your comment - yet again - has nothing to do with the article. I'm not going to debate the subtleties of language with you.


"If you feel like a foreigner, [..] you will always be one. "
"The word ''alien'' is offensive in the 21st century "

Is it only me, or is Ed feeling like a foreigner, here! Don't forget, Ed, Thailand is already in the 26 century.
Welcome to 'future' ;-]

Posted by ??? on June 12, 2012 12:07

Editor Comment:

That comment was directed by me at another comment. I grow weary of commenters who ignore the relevant issues (in this case, accurate tourist numbers) and prefer to point-score. Deal with the issue, or don't bother. I know what I think isn't important. It's about time you and others realised that.


I have always thought the numbers were high as I read Total people through Phuket airport. Thanks for a Reasonable break down that I believe. I have always had PLENTY of room while waiting for a flight in Phuket airport. The Numbers have thrown me off, thinking of expansion needs.
I can believe 2.5 mil tourists better than inflated #'s.

Posted by John on June 14, 2012 21:41

Editor Comment:

The airport passenger numbers are not inflated and never have been but the number of projected tourists for 2012 clearly is not based on logic.


Nice article. As mentioned we clearly can all get the international arrivals for PIA as well as the domestic arrivals. Seems like they have tried to assume that of the mass majority of all domestic arrivals into Phuket are non-thais who are tourists. This we all know is not true and most in the industry use the PIA international arrivals as the best barometer.

Posted by Simon on June 22, 2012 20:08

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