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Phuket has a chance to take a different road and to attract more tourists

Planet Phuket: Clean Future Grows a Fan Club

Sunday, February 7, 2010
Planet Phuket News Analysis

PHUKET'S honorary consuls are not fairy godmothers, and they don't carry magic wands. But if you happen to get into trouble on the island, they're the people you would like at your side immediately.

Each of them would certainly have a mental catalogue in their heads about the kinds of difficulties that befall expat residents and holidaymakers.

When they sit down with Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob on Monday, for the first time as a group, memories of some of those difficulties will come tumbling out.

The precedent-setting meeting in Phuket City will be a great opportunity for some of the concerns of the honorary consuls to be fully explained, and noted.

Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob is a good listener. Sources within the resort industry rate him as ''very bold'' as governors go

Not many of his predecessors are in that category.

Governor Wichai gets out, talks to people, forms a view of what is right and wrong, and does what he thinks is right.

There is realistic hope that he is the man who can begin the process of change that needs to take place on Phuket to ensure its future as an international tourism destination.

Right now, that future has never been more clouded.

While the tourist arrival numbers are at record levels, those visitors come because the island is heavily discounted.

And the cautious holidaymakers mostly don't have the money to waste on overpriced tuk-tuk or taxi transport, and unwanted extra commissions.

The honorary consuls, many of them Thais, have plenty of experience and can tell the governor how the island's appeal to tourists can be quickly improved.

Thrust into a role not of his choosing, Governor Wichai has impressed onlookers in his short stint so far.

He kept a promise, made after seven lives were lost with the sinking of a dive boat in March, to improve rescues at sea.

He has also created a special environmental approvals committee that protects Phuket from unscrupulous developers, a change that was desperately needed.

At the same time, he has his own view on infrastructure, especially new roads, something that he believes Phuket also needs.

If Governor Wichai wins an extension of his time as governor until October, avoiding compulsory retirement, he may relish the chance to be remembered for more than the introduction of insurance for Phuket's jet-skis.

Never one to sit idly behind his desk, Governor Wichai has had a television set installed in his office . . . not for day-time soaps, but so he can see the CCTV images from Phuket's growing number of security cameras.

That's a measure of his interest in what's happening around the island.

Listening to the views of the honorary consuls will represent a real breakthrough. As an international destination, Phuket has to grow to abide by international standards.

Yet plenty of people in responsible, senior positions on Phuket do not want change. They like ''the system'' just the way it is. Many of them are beneficiaries of ''the system.''

Although often reluctant to express an opinion, the majority of Thais on the island do want change.

Excessive, unwarranted greing jai (respect for authority) is what keeps the majority silent, just as ''the system'' keeps the Thai media from reporting rip-offs and corruption.

The Governor will be told on Monday that Phuket's troubles can be corrected with one simple change: if the current laws of Thailand are enforced, all of the island's problems will vanish. It won't happen overnight, but it must happen eventually.

If the Governor undertakes to begin the change that can resurrect Phuket, he will have the wholehearted backing of the international community . . . and the unspoken support of the island's silent majority.

We wish participants a positive meeting on Monday, and every success.
Phuket Summit: Governor to Meet Expat Consuls
Breaking News A precedent setting meeting is to take place on Monday between Phuket's Governor and 16 honorary consuls. Gatherings four times a year will discuss all expat and tourist issues.
Phuket Summit: Governor to Meet Expat Consuls

Secret Phuket: Lifting the Veil on Heavy Metal
Take the Tour One of Phuket's most surprising features is a hidden valley tin smelter and refinery where links with the island's mining past are forging an environmentally friendly future.
Secret Phuket: Lifting the Veil on Heavy Metal

Rawai Blaze: Razed Roxanne Rocks No More
Latest A bar in the southern Phuket beach destination of Rawai has been destroyed in a blaze. Police have yet to determine whether the fire that razed Roxanne Bar was deliberately lit or not.
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Phuket's Record High Sets Pace for Global Upturn
Breaking News Figures for Phuket flight arrivals and departures in January produce record numbers as the island's ability to recover from natural and manmade disasters shines through.
Phuket's Record High Sets Pace for Global Upturn

Phuket Pushes for Special 4am Nightlife Zone
Breaking News Phuket's Governor has thrown his weight behind extending opening hours in Patong to 4am. He has also disclosed that he is seeking to extend his time as governor.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Does Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob speak English fairly?
It would be good when Phuketwan talk about officials from the local administration to mention in any article if those Thai Servants speak, read and are able to write in English.

Sometime local translators when they confronting at meeting between foreigners and Thai officials have tendency to adapt the request in the way to please the local administrations.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on February 7, 2010 17:30

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