Phuket

Plan now or face problems, Phuket warned

PHUKET CITY: The Deputy Secretary General of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), Santi Bangor, today warned that without proper planning Phuket may face growing environmental problems.

The island’s official population is 270,000, he said, but some 200,000 other people live here unregistered, and Phuket also gets some four million tourists a year.

This means, in effect, that Phuket has to manage its resources to cater for 10 times its official population.

“If we don’t limit the number of people using Phuket’s limited natural resources, there will assuredly be more environmental problems,” he warned.

K. Santi was speaking at a seminar at the Royal Phuket City Hotel, entitled “Phuket’s New Face”, attended by some 500 people.

He added that people should focus on how to encourage tourists to spend more instead of trying to attract greater numbers of tourists.

An indication of how rapidly Phuket is growing was given by Thanusak Pungdetch of the Phuket Real Estate Club. He said, “The figures from the club show that the [number of new developments] in Phuket this year was up 500% compared with last year.

“It’s growing very well everywhere around the island,” he said, revealing that 51 property projects worth an estimated 20 billion baht were started this year.

The Vice-President of the Phuket Chamber of Commerce, Sirichai Silpa-archa, said that, given the island’s growth and the possible problems, the province should be given more autonomy.

By 2007, he said, Phuket would be facing considerable challenges and should have greater decision-making powers “because the central government will not have the capacity to administer it”.

The Permanent Secretary of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry, Kraisorn Pornsute, told the seminar that CAT and TOT intend to develop Phuket’s telephone infrastructure in the coming year so that 90% of the island has access to telephone service.

At present, he said, just 31% of Phuket’s homes and businesses have a telephone line installed, while 46% of the population – or almost 100,000 people – aged six or over use mobile phones. Just 12% of homes have a computer, he added.

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