Meeting aims to improve Phuket tourism

KARON: A meeting on the topic of “Increasing Phuket’s Competitiveness in the International Tourism Market” was held on Tuesday at the Phuket Arcadia Beach Resort. The event was organized jointly by the Phuket Tourist Association and the Kenan Institute Asia (KIA). Objectives of the meeting included finding ways to develop the province as a world class tourist destination; identifying ways to offset the current downturn in this year’s high season; and defining the role of tourist industry operators in the development of an environmentally-sustainable tourism industry. Mr. Pattanapong Aikwanich, President of the Phuket Tourist Association, said the Phuket tourism industry is currently entering a dangerous phase because more and more tourists flying in are using Phuket as a gateway to reach tourist destinations in other provinces. He also said Phuket was in danger of becoming viewed as a “cheap destination”, adding that these trends are making it increasingly difficult for Phuket to reach its goal of becoming a world-class tourist destination. Participants discussed the findings of a study conducted by the Institute for Management Education for Thailand (IMET), which identified several worrying trends in the Phuket tourism industry: – Tourism revenue in the year 2000 was the same as that in 1993; – Average per-person tourist expenditure continues to decrease, contributing to the image of Phuket as a “cheap destination”; – The destruction of Phuket’s natural resources and environment is causing a decline in tourism; – lack of infrastructure in Phuket limits tourist spending; – poor communication among businesses, the media, government and local communities is an obstacle to problem-solving. The meeting proposed a strategy to encourage tourists to spend more during their visits than the current average, which is estimated to be about 3,000 baht a day. The plan includes establishing Phuket as a retail center for products manufactured under the “One Tambon, One Product” scheme and finding ways to increase tourism year-round. Proposed solutions included promotion of local festivals, support for investment in new entertainment facilities, infrastructure improvement, and developing a base of “repeat customers”. The KIA is a US-Thai state-private sector think tank aimed at promoting sustainable partnerships for economic development.

Phuket News
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