Phuket may no longer be counted as a world class tourism destination (EP. 1)

reveal Phuket may no longer be counted as a world class tourism destination (EP. 1) 
reveal Phuket may no longer be counted as a world class tourism destination (EP. 1)

The development of Phuket, beginning from tin industry.

Managing Director of the Slate Hotel and a former president of Thai Tourism Council of Thailand, Wichit  Na Ranong is hailed as the father of tourism on Phuket. When we sat down and talk to him, no doubt he is really the father of tourism of Phuket.

ManagingDirector of the Slate Hotel, Phuket and a former president of Thai Tourism Council of Thailand, Wichit Na Ranong
ManagingDirector of the Slate Hotel, Phuket and a former president of Thai Tourism Council of Thailand, Wichit Na Ranong

His reminiscence may help to shape better direction of the tourism industry of Phuket. The biggest island of Thailand or Koh Phuket could attract the highest 14 million foreign visitors in 2019 and nine million in 2023.

He said nine million foreign visitors last year could generate income equal to 14 million foreign visitors in 2019. The statistics showed quality tourism can generate more income and more sustainable development. This should be a target of Phukettourism.

Born into a family that revolutionized the island’s trade sector with tin mining, Wichit could have stuck to the industry. In the 1970s, after hosting a film team that was working on a James Bond film, he realized that sleepy littlePhuket could become an international destination. His efforts put the island on the world map.

“My age was around 25-26, after came back from studying in the US, I decided to diversified from tin industry, a family business to run the most modern theatre inPhuket at the time. Later, I knew “Mike” a manager of the United Artists (Bangkok Office). He became my good friend, one day I asked him to write a letter to executive of the company to shoot a movie inPhuket. Fortunately, the executive agreed and this has changedPhuket to become well-known tourism plot.”

James Bond movie was film in Phuket

Phuket has start to develop tourism as early as 70’s when James Bond movie the Man with the Golden Gun, which was film here and gave a big exposure forPhuket in Europe.

At that time, a group of local business men, who saw the potential of Phuket Tourism has formedPhuket Tourist Association (PTA) with the support of Thailand Organization of Tourism (TOT and now Tourism Authority of Thailand TAT).

TOT then had convinced the government to grant a budget to make a comprehensive Tourism Master Plan for Phuket. The master plan was one of the most complete and addressed all aspects of sustainable tourism: the environment, the community right and benefit, carrying capacity, safety, proper and sufficient infrastructure, criteria for development, etc.

Investors and some other government agencies started to pay attention to Phuket. PTA had played a big role in pushing for

Phuket to be a new tourist destination for Thailand

Phuket to be a new tourist destination for Thailand and to ensure that basic infrastructure was in place and accessibility is conveniently and sufficiently available.

It was a tough mission as at that time tourism is not know and understood by most people. Local people regarded hotels as a place for people to have fun and sex. Therefore, many parents had not allowed their children to work in hotels. Man power is very difficult to find for this reason.

Moreover, the skilled labor and experienced manager were reluctant to move to Phuket because the facilities to maintain their life style and standard for families were not available. To seek cooperation and support, relate government agencies had to be convince and made understood of the potential of tourism and what benefits tourism could bring for the country and local community. This task took almost 10 years with consistent and close follow ups.

“Finally, our dream came true, government was convince; basic infrastructures were set up, airport was made to accommodate the jet plane. More number of tourists had made their presence.”

THAI commenced its first flight to Phuket

Investment in new hotels slowly started to take place. It was not until the 80’s that Phuket took off actively and known to international market when Thai Airways International commenced its first flight to Phuket on the way to Singapore. Tourists were pouring into Phuket and made Phuket as one of the highest growth in the region.

Tourist arrivals jumped from tens of thousands to a million mark in not so many years. Airport got congested very rapidly and could not be expande in time. New hotels emerged almost every month bringing the room inventory from a few thousands to tens of thousands in a short period of time. Many airlines both scheduled and chartered were heading to Phuket like coming for festival.

There were many strong reasons why Phuket was sold like a hot cake: Its beach

and water quality, Thai hospitality, Food & fruits, beautiful surroundings, good accessibility, good value for money, etc. When destination was heavily use, certainly it must have high wear and tear. Good plan, good maintenance and management must be in place.

Phuket was developed without direction

The master plan was complete and ready to use. Unfortunately, it was not implement, simply because the government was not able to guarantee the loan

for the development project, which was almost 20 billion baht. Finally, Phuket was force to head off without direction and without the real responsible body.

The result, he says, is general disorganisation, with deteriorating environment:

dirty and unorganised beach area, airport congestion, traffic jams, negative impact on local people and other problems.

“The problems have been evident for a while”, he says, “manifesting in environmental degradation

and a rising tide of criticisms from tourists, and growing bad effects on ordinary local people. Tourism should not have a negative impact on local people.”

He warned that Phuket may no longer be counted as a world class tourism destination

because of a slide in the overall quality of the destination.

the Slate Phuket Luxury Hotel

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