In an exclusive interview with the Phuket Gazette, Gov Tri said the island’s continued attractiveness to foreign investors could see growth figures for 2012 surpass those of 2011.
“Thai and foreign investors are continuously coming to invest in Phuket, especially foreign investors who want to put their money into hotels, resorts and the tourism industry in general,” he said.
“Foreign investors typically don’t buy land or start construction. They usually buy an existing property in order to avoid lengthy legal and documentation processes,” he said.
Chief among these is the thorny issue of land ownership.
“We have many cases in which land title deeds were issued illegally. Investors are aware of this issue. They have to check land ownership documents carefully before making the decision to invest,” said Governor Tri.
Department of Special Investigation (DSI) officers who came to Phuket last year to probe suspect land title deeds unearthed a number of irregularities, he said.
“I have heard that the DSI and Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) came to Phuket to inspect land title deeds on plots at Kamala Beach and Freedom Beach,” said Governor Tri.
“They found more than 10 plots for which title deeds had not been legally issued. Those deeds will all be revoked,” he said.
Developments like this should increase confidence among potential foreign investors, he said.
The typical foreign investor is from Russia, Scandinavia or the Middle East and invests from 150 million to 200mn baht to acquire a hotel property with 150 rooms or more. They often improve resort properties and sell them on to other foreigners, he said.
The current government sees the importance of Phuket as an economic growth area and intends to invest substantially in several big development projects planned for the island, he said.
“The government has sent advisers from the Prime Minister’s Office as well as an economic advisory team to collect information on development projects in Phuket. These include the Phuket International Convention and Exhibition Center, the light rail train project and the Patong Tunnel project,” he said.
“Since the government is showing a real interest in these projects, I think they will be approved without too much difficulty,” he added.
— Warisa Temram
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