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AMCHAM forum sets course for New Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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AMCHAM forum sets course for New Phuket | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Is Phuket lacking identity? What makes the Phuket brand? How can the island benefit from the current winds of change? These and other issues were addressed at the September 12 AMCHAM forum, titled “The New Phuket”.

The latest installment in the AMCHAM seminar series took place at the Angsana Laguna Phuket ballroom and saw a number of speakers, both on stage and in the audience.

“During our seminars we try to focus on things that are critical to the issues at hand and what we are talking about today is the ‘New Phuket’, the aftereffect of the government issues, the beach cleanup and everything else. We want people to express their opinions, explain what’s happening in the business community here,” explained Bill Barnett, managing director of C9Hotelworks and property columnist for the Phuket Gazette.

To showcase how dramatic the recent changes on the island have been, Scott Gorsuch of Leisure Design Group opened the forum with a ‘before and after’ photo presentation depicting Phuket’s beach cleanup, and went on to draw comparisons between travel agency brochures and the reality tourists actually face on the ground here.

David Keen, founder and CEO of QUO, a global branding specialist agency, took to the stage to ask if Phuket is really one of the largest resort destinations in the world that has virtually no identity. This blunt question, followed by examples of successful destination branding campaigns such as “Love NY”, “Pure New Zealand” and “Incredible India”, sparked a lively discussion among the 200 representatives of Phuket’s tourism and hospitality industry present at the conference.

“Phuket has an identity that’s driven reactively and not proactively. I believe that the time is now, if not already a little bit late, for the stakeholders in the industry to take brand Phuket and define it, so Phuket gets the brand that it deserves. We want to lay foundations for the future,” concluded Keen.

MORE THAN WORDS

The culmination of positive energy and stimulating ideas aired during the forum resulted in the decision to create a private enterprise council comprising leaders in the tourism industry in order to develop a single voice and brand identity for Phuket.

“[It] all starts with the initiation from us here. People will not listen to just one, single person,” said Wichit Na-Ranong, owner and managing director of the Indigo Pearl resort and one of the founding fathers of Phuket’s tourism industry.

The final outcome of the discussion at the forum was to reactivate the Phuket Hotels Association.
“This industry is too big to go backward. If tourism doesn’t exist on this island, what else is it going to be?” asked Mr Barnett.

“We want to give tourism one voice. There are other places that this has worked. The Bali Hotels Association gave a powerful voice for tourism. And Bali went through tough times – two bombings – but whenever there was a crisis, there was one voice people could go to and ask: ‘What is happening with tourism?’.”

The new council will be designed to give a unified message to tourists who are interested in what will happen next and what Phuket will be like when they arrive for their holiday.

Mr Barnett and others have already entered into conversations with Mr Wichit to establish an interface between the Phuket Hotels Association and the Thai Hotels Association, Mr Barnett told the crowd at the event.

Anthony Lark, vice president of business development for the Montara Hospitality Group and panelist at the forum, backed the move to establish a unified voice and brand for Phuket.

“The urban-resort-mass-tourism market can co-exist with people who want to take out yachts, stay at private villas, eat at five-star restaurants and live a boutique lifestyle. Other places have done it. But it cannot be done without a representative body who looks at the interests of all of the stakeholders,” said Mr Lark.

“Thailand has the opportunity to redefine itself. This moment of peace, the moment of calm that’s been imposed upon it by the military government, gives us the opportunity to define the Thailand of the future, and Phuket is an absolutely fundamental, critical part of it,” concluded Mr Barnett.

Additional reporting from the forum by Isaac Stone Simonelli

— Maciek Klimowicz

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO | The Thaiger

“The rules signal greater willingness by countries around the world to rein in big tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter that the governments fear have become too powerful with little accountability.”

India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social.

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The companies are also being made to publish a compliance report each month with details about how many complaints they’ve received and the action they took.

They’ll also be required to remove ‘some’ types of content including “full or partial nudity,” any “sexual act” or “impersonations including morphed images”

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told.

The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

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Business

Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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