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Phuket’s economy is entering a period of recession – PSU report

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s economy is entering a period of recession – PSU report | The Thaiger
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Phuket’s Prince of Songkla University Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism has completed a lengthy report about the health of the island’s tourism, saying that tourism and Phuket’s economy are in poor condition. Part of the report says that, despite a 4% rise in visitor numbers in 2019, revenue from tourism is falling.

“The economy of Phuket is entering a period of recession.”

Chayanon Phucharoen, the associate dean of research and graduate study at the faculty reports that Phuket’s economy is undergoing a transformation.

In the past decade there has been an enormous surge of new developments and new accommodation options, most outside of Patong. But the demographics of the tourist influx isn’t matching the hotel or developers’ plans.

“Annual economic growth in the province has been at 6% for the last two decades, but recently we observed a hiccup.”

“The days of sea, sand and sun… beer, bars and babes, are over.”

Chayanon refers to a Bank of Thailand survey showing the number of tourism operators in Phuket province had fallen sharply, despite rising tourist arrivals.

Chayanon blames, amongst other things, the strong baht for putting a brake on tourism spending, adding that digital disruption had funnelled tourist services and income towards online platforms controlled by outsiders, and a move away from on-island tour operators and vendors.

“Other conditions undermining the tourism sector included degraded beaches and poor road traffic safety.”

The study says that there is an urgent need for Phuket to create new tourism experiences instead of relying exclusively on its reputation for sea, sand and sun. And there was a move away from Patong as the main focus for the island’s future tourism.

But the report noted that it wasn’t only Phuket that was feeling the pinch of a stronger baht. Major tourist destinations such as Pattaya are also feeling the impact.

Amongst the bad news for Thailand’s main tourist hot-spots, Damrongkiat Pinitkarn, secretary of Entertainment and Tourism Industry Association of Pattaya, says the town’s bars have recorded a 40% drop in custom from tourist so far this high season.

That report, by Sophon Cable TV, says that, though the Chinese still account for the highest number of visitors, many are now opting to explore Vietnam where the local currency is weaker and tourists can get more value for their money.

“In the evening, more tourists are staying within the confines of their hotels instead of venturing out to party at clubs or discos. Chinese tourists are also checking in pool villas and having parties instead of going out.”

On a positive note, there has been a huge influx of Indian visitors to Pattaya, who are attracted by the city’s lively night life but the report notes that their numbers may not grow any larger, so bar owners need to deal with this tough situation and adapt.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

“Phuket’s economy is shrinking” – University report

Greeley Pulitzer

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“Phuket’s economy is shrinking” – University report | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Rocket Bird Travel Company

“Phuket’s economy is shrinking.”

A report released by the local Prince of Songkla University reveals some disturbing trends for the once-booming tropical paradise. Chayanon Phucharoen, the university’s associate dean of research and graduate study says that Phuket’s economy is undergoing a transformation. He blames the strong Thai baht and says digital disruption is funnelling tourist services and income toward online platforms controlled by outsiders, instead of the income going into local pockets.

Strong competition by the many new hotels and accommodation-sharing apps is pushing down prices across the island. Most of the new hotel rooms and tour destinations over the past five years are outside of the traditional favourite, Patong.

“Other factors included beaches degraded by pollution and poor road safety.”

Chayanon cited a survey by the Bank of Thailand showing a drop in the number of Phuket tourism operators, despite rising arrivals. The last two decades have seen an average growth in tourism numbers but this year the numbers have cooled off with a growth of only 4% and a swing in tourist demographics and preferred areas of the island to visit.

One of the biggest losers is Patong where the popular party town has been slow to adapt to the changing tourist mix. The report says that tourists are now sick of being ripped off by tuk tuks, touts and scams.

“Phuket needs to to create new tourism experiences instead of relying on its reputation for ‘sea, sand and sun. The sector can be improved in many ways, such as offering new experiences like cultural activities.”

“This would not only increase tourist numbers but also better disperse tourists, and tourism revenue, throughout the island.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Patong

Phuket tollway and tunnel project, linking Kathu and Patong, awaiting approval

The Thaiger

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Phuket tollway and tunnel project, linking Kathu and Patong, awaiting approval | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket People’s Voice

Phuket’s first ever tolled highway, to be built linking Kathu to Patong route, is awaiting approval from the government’s committee on public-private partnership. This will be the first ever tolled highway in Thailand that also allows motorcycles.

The infamous, and much-discussed, Patong Tunnel, and accompanying link roads, has been a slow-burn story over the past two decades, popping up with a new twist each year. Each time there is another round of studies, negotiations, plans and maps released to the media… then nothing.

This latest proposal would mean that the new highway, and access to the Patong Hill tunnel, would be tolled. The route is also a variation from the proposal in the past.

The Director of Expressway Authority of Thailand, or EXAT, says he will visit Phuket to follow up with the progress on the Kathu-Patong highway, a 4 kilometre long highway with a budget of 14 billion baht. He will also meet and talk to locals about the process to expropriate lands for the project in order to make the least impact on them.

The project is now waiting for the approval from the government committee overseeing public/private partnership funding for the project.

After the PPP’s approval, the papers will be filed to cabinet for final budget approval. Meanwhile, the EXAT is issuing a royal decree zoning the land planned for expropriation in Patong and Kathu. They’ve already sent officials from the land office to discuss with the local authorities to use the public land and try to avoid private land as much as possible.

The local authorities are being largely positive as the highway will provide a lot of benefits to Phuket, taking a lot of traffic from side roads and linking two of the busiest areas in the island.

Some areas fall under national park zoning and officials are discussing with the forestry department about taking over a small portion of this land to avoid disturbing local communities along the proposed route. The route would take the traffic in a different direction than the current route across Patong Hill and along Phra Phuket Kaen Road, instead going through the mountain south of the current Patong Hill Road and through current forest areas to relink with the By-Pass Road.

Local land agreements will be made soon before filing to the Ministry of Transport, then to the cabinet.

Phuket People’s Voice reports that the current schedule is to start building the highway next year, to be ready in 2021. But proposed start dates have come and gone many times in the past.

The project’s starting point connects with Phra Metta Road in Patong, passes over Pisit Koranee Road, all the way to the mountain (Patong Hill) for 0.9 km, then there is a tunnel (the tunnel!!!!!) through the mountain for 1.85 kilometres followed by a highway for 1.23 kilometres, that finishes in Kathu connecting with highway route 4029.

There will be 6 lanes, 3 lanes on each side. The left lane will be constructed as social motorcycle lane. This is the initiative from local authorities to allow motorcyclists on the highway to solve traffic problem and reduce accidents on the current route 4029 which connects Phuket town, Kathu and Patong.

This highway is also expected to be an evacuation route in case of urgent evacuations.

The construction of a tunnel between Patong and Kathu has been a talking point for two decades.

SOURCE: เสียงประชาชน คนภูเก็ต Phuket People’s Voice

Phuket tollway and tunnel project, linking Kathu and Patong, awaiting approval | News by The Thaiger

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Crime

Motorcycle thieves arrested in Patong

The Thaiger

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Motorcycle thieves arrested in Patong | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Newshawk Phuket

Patong Police arrested three men in the seaside city with motorbikes that had been stolen. It appears the group has been stealing motorcycles around Patong since November 20.

The group was spotted stealing a motorcycle on Phra Metta Road in Patong. After further investigation and inspection of CCTV it was discovered that the gang conducted their thefts in the early morning and just on one side of the road.

They were taken to Patong police station for further investigation and prosecution.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

Motorcycle thieves arrested in Patong | News by The Thaiger

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