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Phuket Business: Why the island continues to buck recession

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Business: Why the island continues to buck recession | The Thaiger

PHUKET: There is no question that Phuket over much of the last four years has recovered from global recession. However, what is more noticeable is how resilient it has been in terms of tourism, despite a global financial meltdown and political instability on a national level. This resilience allows Phuket to grow while other tourism areas of the world are suffering.

The Crisis Begins
The global financial crisis generally hit everyone in 2008. However, in that year Phuket’s tourism was chugging along fairly well, only four years after the major South Asian tsunami. Ironically, political issues in other parts of Thailand helped drive more tourism to Phuket and away from Bangkok.

Tourism did decline compared to the previous year, when times were good, but the region still attracted folks who still had cash and hadn’t lost their shirts on the financial markets. This was helped by Phuket hotels and vendors lowering their prices to lure more customers.

Two Years Later
Well into the global crisis by 2010, when most countries were struggling and Europe was showing signs of serious collapse, Phuket truly became a getaway island.

Tourism to the island during this period was strong and consistent; Phuket simply didn’t exist in the same world as the rest of Thailand. This support was due to a number of reasons: Geo-exports out of Australia increased ten-fold in 2010 as China’s demand for natural resources started making Australians rich with cash to spend. Those working in and receiving support from the mining industry reaped the benefits of selling copper, coal and iron to Asia.

That income flow then allowed Australians to flood Phuket, especially when airlines began flying direct to the island and financial services firms started to offer the full range of services including banking, investments and income protection. According to the New York Times, by 2010 Australians became the biggest group of foreign visitors to Phuket annually.

Swedes and Russians are popular visitors to Phuket. Both saw increased financial strength due to the currency machinations in Europe, especially since both countries were not directly drawn down by the sinking Euro. This was a good trend since it helped offset the loss of tourists coming from traditional European markets such as England, Germany, and France.

By 2010, tourism and other related segments made up the income of more than two-thirds of the labor on the island. Furthermore, during that year, the sector provided Thailand with an estimated US$3.15 billion in aggregate revenue.

Current Year

Phuket’s tourism strength continues to be a positive point of news in Thailand. Not only is airline traffic to the island up almost 30% versus 2011, the tourism numbers in the month of May broke all known records.

This boom in foreign tourism business increased as linkages by low-cost airlines expanded. A number of airlines provide regular, direct flights to Phuket, further connecting more regions for quick getaways as well as being connection points from further destinations. The proof is in the numbers: arrivals jumped 1.74 million additional passengers into Phuket in 2012. Further, international arrivals jumped by half over 2011.

Clearly, the global financial issues are not dragging Phuket down. Instead, the region is making capital investments with the ongoing tourism revenue that continues to grow. Expansion of Phuket’s International Airport is expected to allow a capacity total of 12.5 million by next year. Additionally, talks are in play to increase separate terminal capacity for private chartered aircraft as well, which will increase connections for high-paying visitors.

ON A ROLL
If Phuket can continue to improve its offerings while also maintaining a diverse tourism base from different countries, there is no reason that the island can’t continue its success over the next few years.

Now that various global regions are starting to show signs of economic recovery, there will be additional changes and shifts in visitor groups.

However, Phuket’s tourism management visibly understands this concept and is working proactively to keep bringing in business overall, which will lead to continued success despite all the woes affecting Thailand or the rest of the world.

— Evelyn Mitchell

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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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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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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