Bright tourism future for Phuket, Thailand

The future for tourism may look a lot better for Phuket. It was a busy week with upcoming changes and regulations. The local tourism newspaper summarizes what has happened:

Bright tourism future for Phuket, Thailand

The future for tourism may look a lot better for Phuket. It was a busy week with upcoming changes and regulations.

The local tourism newspaper summarizes what has happened:

On Monday Phuket Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada told local council bosses that construction must be cleared from the shorefront at Surin beach with 30 days or the bosses will face a probe by the Department of Special Investigation.

A special tourist court is coming to Phuket to speed cases involving crimes against tourists – and it’s even possible there could be double penalties.

On Tuesday it was revealed that the Tourism Authority of Thailand will not be promoting Phuket and several other major destinations in 2014. This will allow Phuket time to sort its infrastructure problems, water pollution and traffic congestion.

By Friday Phuket’s makeover had begun with the announcement of the opening of two Crime Crisis Centers, the arrest of some illegal taxis, and a declaration by the DSI that 11 individuals and organizations were already being probed.

Later that day, the chief of Airports of Thailand said that all contracts for taxis and limos would end, and that AoT would even give up its 36m baht income from airport rents to improve Phuket.

Bangkok-style taxi queues are coming to end the chaos at the airport. The ”kidnap cabs” that take tourists to shops for commission seem certain to disappear, too.

Phuket’s taxi drivers have begun going to seminars teaching them about tourism and service. Jet-ski operators will go to seminars as well.

By Saturday Thailand’s Chief Police Commissioner, General Adul Saengsingkaew, was promising Phuket another 700 officers, extra vehicles, new technology and larger police stations as well as officer who are ”honest, just and kind.” Immigration officials are all going to smile, too.

After a week like that, the only ones not smiling are likely to be the doomsayers. For them, this must have been the worst week ever.

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No more cause for pessimism, only blue skies and sunshine on the horizon. How odd their world must be today.

And all it took, it seems, was Bangkok intervention. The people with the power and the money finally realized that Phuket needed to change, that Phuket had to change.

And change it will. Not in a week or a year, but over several years.

Yet to come is the transport revolution, and the social revolution that must come with the transport revolution.

People on Phuket must be helped to abandon motorcycles and catch buses instead. Growing up to be a taxi driver should not be the ambition of every Phuket boy.

Much more still has to be achieved. But the revival of Phuket began this week, and everyone except the doomsayers should be overjoyed.

Some of Phuketwan’s wish list of items appear to be coming true. We think there’s now real hope for the rest:

Phuketwan’s Wish List

Crime Provide an extra 500 police for Phuket based on its actual population. Take up the Australian ambassador’s suggestion of obliterating all illegal weapons and make the island a no-guns, no-knives zone.

Corruption Start a well-promoted public campaign to end corruption on the island and prosecute any official caught taking bribes. Investigate all allegations about Immigration officers and police. Create a corruption-free Phuket model for other provinces.

Transport Require all tuk-tuk and taxi drivers to register again and to meet international standards of service before being given new licenses. Reduce their numbers by 10 percent a year for three years, offering alternative training. Introduce a call center and abolish double-payment for journeys passengers don’t make.

Sustainability Begin an investigation into what’s required to keep Phuket a natural and appealing destination and set limits on development and tourist numbers based on the results of that investigation. Save the reefs and the beaches. Create a Phuket Beach Authority.

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