Connect with us

Phuket

Phuket convention center impasse triggers political concerns

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

ANALYSIS

PHUKET: The latest political obstacle to the construction of an international convention and exhibition center on the island is a staggering blow to the Phuket tourism industry.

Over the past five years, the nation’s domestic political infighting has crippled efforts to develop a sustainable plan for tourism in Thailand. As Asia led the world in a post-2008 economic surge, a dynamic shift from foreign to Thai investment in the hotel business has spawned an uncontrolled countrywide surge in the number of new properties being built.

Ranging from the feasible to the illogical, the influx of new tourist accommodations and the long line of new projects yet to be completed are endangering virtually every destination in the country.

Hotel development has made a dangerous transition. In the past, decisions to enter the industry were typically based on sound business criteria. Nowadays, many people pursue the trade as a hobby, secondary line of business or in some cases just to serve as a showcase for friends and family. In many cases, no feasibility study or initial financial projections accompany the investment decision.

As a result, many of the hotels and resorts that are now cropping up are bulk-standard, mid-scale properties that have few distinctive or unique offerings: they lack differentiation.

First-time hotel owners are generally investing in the provision of guest rooms only, with few looking into other demand generators for tourists. New master-planned resorts, with open areas and a wide array of facilities, are increasingly becoming an endangered species.

While the number of guest rooms has multiplied on private-sector investment, there has been little to no effective governmental regulation of this growth through zoning and other controls. Worse still, government infrastructure projects needed to keep pace with the growth are too often focused on bringing in ever-more tourists. This is perhaps the very definition of non-sustainability.

So many rooms, so many tourists, and what is there for them to do? Players in Phuket’s travel industry often complain about the rising number of less-affluent guests, but what would one expect if all that is available is an seemingly unlimited supply of anonymous 32-square-meter rooms?

As of the mid-year mark, the island had 43,571 hotel rooms. Another 6,968 were in the pipeline and will open by the end of 2014.

Airport arrivals in 2011 are expected to top a record four million and total airport passenger throughput will near eight million people. An expansion plan to boost the airport’s capacity to 12.5 million by 2014 is underway.

With the number of hotel rooms growing and the airport expansion project, it is inevitable that more tourists will come. The clear and present danger is that there is no choice but to be thrust further down the dead-end expressway of volume mass tourism. That is, rooms to fill at any price.

But the price that Phuket will pay will be catastrophic.

An international convention center, be it located in Mai Khao, Patong or Phuket Town, would serve as a leading generator to diversify the inbound market and wean it off its growing over-reliance on charter and group tours. Domestic and international MICE business (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) are a necessary component of any developed market – be it Singapore, Hong Kong and even resort islands such as Bali.

In the case of the latter, a new conference center is being built at the Nusa Dua destination resort.

Given recent history, it is illogical to expect that the rejection of the Phuket convention center plan, as an isolated government intervention into the island’s tourism future, is part of a changing attitude to get things right. One has to ask whether this is a case of political agendas colliding, or the shape of change with a greater awareness of planning foresight.

While officials wallow in indecision over tunnels, flyovers, convention centers and public transport, leaving Phuket’s future very much a foggy blur, the rest of the world continues to move forward.

Holistic long-term tourism planning is the only way forward: planning that includes stemming the number of new hotels, encouraging renovation and upgrades, strict enforcement of environmental control measures and appropriate and sustainable land-use zoning.

The key word here is “sustainability”, and to finally move toward this goal requires diversification.

To punish Phuket by laying waste to a key and necessary infrastructure boost to the island’s tourism economy is a shame. It’s that simple.

For now, Phuket has all rooms in the world, but very few places for people staying in those rooms to go.

— Bill Barnett

 

Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand6 hours ago

Thailand News Today | AoT warns about tourist exuberance, easing of restrictions | June 22

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

CCSA: Bars to stay closed for now, drunk customers risk the spread of Covid-19

Bangkok7 hours ago

Woman dies after jumping from Phra Khanong BTS station in Bangkok

Phuket Sandbox July 1st

days
hours
minutes
seconds

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

263 covid cases linked to canned seafood factory in Songkhla

Drugs8 hours ago

Narcotics Control Board announce recent drug busts, heroin and cocaine sent by mail

Environment8 hours ago

3 Cambodian activists arrested for plotting against the government/insulting the king after documenting waste run-off

Chiang Mai8 hours ago

Chiang Mai eases restrictions, alcohol now allowed at restaurants

Thailand9 hours ago

Angry ex allegedly sets motorcycle on fire in school parking garage

Cambodia9 hours ago

6 arrested in Cambodia for allegedly trafficking people into Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 4,059 new cases; provincial totals

Thailand10 hours ago

Power outages coming to Kathu

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

Samut Sakhon governor calls for more vaccine doses after order was cut

Thailand11 hours ago

Fruit buyer arrested for allegedly using counterfeit certificates to export durian

Tourism12 hours ago

Airports of Thailand president says tourism won’t pick back up until October

Thailand12 hours ago

Mobile sterilisation/vaccination truck helps Pattaya’s cats and dogs

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending