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Start of the first International Windsurf title on January 16 at Nai Yang

Trends: Children Are Coming, Mugabe Going

Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Tourism TRENDS: Year of the Kids

THE THREE Courtyards by Marriott opening at Patong, Surin and Kamala in 2008 should boost the number of families coming to Phuket and help to subtly change the character of the island.

The biggest influence is likely to be on Patong, where increasingly up-market resorts in the heart of town are rapidly marginalising the beer-belly Soi Bangla-bound expats.

For the first time, the number of rooms available on Phuket in 2008 is expected to top 40,000, with the three Courtyard resorts alone adding 835 rooms. Other Marriott openings are to follow.

Slowly but surely, Patong is getting a modesty makeover. Families are exerting a healthy influence just by being there in such numbers, and looking for wholesome entertainment.

It's an unequal arm-wrestle between the beer bars and an increasing number of global brand names. In 2006, for example, Marriott reported international sales totalling $12.2 billion.

On Phuket in 2008, rosy-cheeked children will be leading the way. Here's what the Marriott people say about the Courtyard Kids Clubs:

''They will offer a full array of sports and cultural activities from an arts and crafts studio, a science lab, a computer room, a 'pretend' costume/dress up area and cooking classes.

''Children will also be able to enjoy a kids-sized movie theater and the Ball House, a place for them to jump and play surrounded by hundreds of mini-balls, while parents will be offered baby-sitting services to let them get away and enjoy the destination on their own for a few hours.

''Each Courtyard will also feature a giant water slide ranging from 32 to 60 meters in a swirling, turning and twisting configuration.''

From the sound of it, a few older kids just might be interested in testing some of that stuff, too. Anyone for dress-ups?

RUMOR File: A Tourist Dictator

ZIMBABWE'S discredited leader, Robert Mugabe, is reported to have been taking in the sights of Phuket and surrounding destinations while his country crumbles.

The man who embodies reverse racism because of the appalling way he treated white settlers (and now all Zimbabweans) allegedly financed a holiday with his wife Grace in December by tapping the country's Reserve Bank for $100,000 at extremely favourable rates.

Africa's Independent Online site reports that while widespread inflation and poverty has resulted from Zimbabwe's basket-case economy, Mugabe, Grace and a dozen bodyguards have been visiting Phuket, Lagkawi in Malaysia and Singapore at government expense.

''On his return he is expected to dissolve parliament in preparation for a general election in March,'' says the Independent Online.

The BBC, banned in Zimbabwe, says (January 15) that Mugabe is now facing a challenge within his party. Reporter John Simpson, undercover inside Zimbabwe, has been told it's certain the despised dictator will not last through 2008.

What the heavy-handed leader should have done was to drop in on the generals in Burma to pick up some tips on how to stay in power without popular support.

Then again, maybe he did.

Look for more Tourism TRENDS on phuketwan

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Wednesday February 21, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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