PHUKET TOWN: In the Gazette Poll for the week ended yesterday, local residents, Thai and foreign alike, expressed considerable pessimism about the outlook for tourist spending in 1999. An overwhelming 79% of them saw visitor spending dropping from 1998, with 10% predicting that it would remain unchanged from last year’s apparently depressed level. Only 1% of the 290 Phuketians participating in the poll saw tourist expenditure rising. Tourists themselves had a more sanguine view. Of the 373 expressing an opinion in the survey, 41% saw spending falling; 30% saw it rising; and 29% saw it maintaining its 1998 level. Many local restaurants and other venues serving tourists have noted that 1998’s rise in visitor numbers did not bring a commensurate increase in spending. Some complain that spending actually dropped, with tourists unwilling to absorb the hefty price increases that occurred in the wake of the July 2, 1997 (de facto) devaluation of the baht. Issues raised in the Gazette Poll change at noon every Friday. The polls appear on both the Phuket Residents’ Page (www.phket.loxinfo.co.th/~gazette) and on the Phuket Gazette Online at thethaiger.com
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