Patong, Kamala revamp still 8 months away

PHUKET CITY: The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says that the number of tourists is on the rise since it launched a promotion for tsunami-affected areas.

The only place that has not benefited, the TAT says, is Khao Lak, which it believes needs more time to recover before it can be promoted.

The TAT’s plans to continue bolstering the recovery of tsunami-affected areas include bringing media and tour operators from abroad to Phuket, “supporting” 189 charter flights to Phuket, assisting the arrangement of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) in tsunami-affected areas and persuading Thai tourists to come to Phuket.

At a meeting with Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura, TAT Deputy Governor Santi Earjongprasit said, “We have tried hard to entice tourists back to the tsunami-affected areas. There is no need to worry with regard to European tourists; the numbers have been and will continue rising over time. We expect even more of them to come during this high season.

“We also tried to promote the [affected] areas by inviting media and tour operators from China, Korea and Japan to take good pictures here.”

Meanwhile, the reconstruction of Phuket’s landscape, budgeted at 194.7 million baht for Patong and 96.7 baht for Kamala, will not be complete in time for the coming high season. It is now expected to be finished by the end of March 2006.

The initial intention was to complete reconstruction by the end of August next year, but, K. Santi said, “We could do it earlier, by hiring different contractors for each separate job in the project, such as the ‘hardscape’ [for example, road surfaces and sidewalks] and the ‘softscape’ [trees].”

He explained that the long delay in getting the project started was related to the government’s lengthy budget approval process. Although the TAT was supposed to receive budget approval in March, it did not receive it until July.

“We need to adapt our efforts to make the plan go faster, in order to finish the project in March,” he added.

Many people are concerned that construction is due to start in the high season, he noted.

“At first, we planned to start in November, but a lot of activities are held within this period, including tsunami commemoration ceremonies. We could expand the time frame for starting on the hard construction, by building the smaller things first.

“Construction, whether in high or low season, is likely to affect business. However, when the reconstructed landscape is complete, people will take pleasure and pride in its beauty.”

Phuket News
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