Volleyball challenge: Let’s keep Phuket a winner in tourism and sports

PHUKET: By all accounts, this year’s Phuket Thailand Open, the globe-trotting women’s beach volleyball tournament, was the biggest, best and most entertaining to date.

A real boon for tourism at the tail end of the low season, the competition showcased the considerable talents of these professional athletes and culminated in an exciting day of finals with a rivetting tie-breaker for the world championship. (See ‘Sport’ pages, this week’s Gazette. Digital subscribers click here to download the full newspaper.)

Perhaps best of all for Phuket is the fact that three successful satellite tournaments have formed around the main competition.

The inaugural ‘PTT Interschool Cup’ involved five teams of six girls each, while the hotly contested ‘Federbrau Inter-Hotel Competition’ drew in eight teams from resorts around the island, with scores of drum-banging supporters turning up for the exciting finals.

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Bob Selznick and pro volleyball player Yupa Phukrongploy, who organized both the hotel and school competitions, have received very positive feedback from the players in both events. They have also been asked to organize beach volleyball competitions year-round.

A year ago in this space, the Gazette questioned why the sport – which appears perfect for a resort island like Phuket – had not attracted many Thais to join the large number of foreign spectators in the stadium.

But this year the Thais turned up force. Now the local Sports Authority of Thailand office plans to develop the sport in Phuket in the run-up to two large tournaments to be hosted here in 2012 and 2014. Both will feature beach volleyball.

This year’s event caused a large influx of foreign tourists. Not only competitors with their families and friends came to Phuket, but also many took part in the Beach Volleyball Around-the-World (BVAW) event. The BVAW draws people who can afford to jet in from all over the world to indulge their passion for the sport – “high-quality tourists” in TAT-speak.

Unfortunately, the organizers of the event have told the Gazette that without better financial support from the province, next year’s event might have to go to another province more willing to provide the necessary funding. This would be a terrible blow to Phuket, especially coming at a time when the sport seems to be really taking off here.

Having sensibly put sustainable tourism development as his top gubernatorial priority, Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradecha and the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization should join PTT, the Phuket Gazette and the other proud sponsors to make what is already the world’s largest world tour event even bigger and better next year.

After five years of continual development, it would be a terrible pity if the Tour’s stop in the Kingdom next year were to be titled ‘The Pattaya Thailand Open’. Why not let beach volleyball and Phuket continue to win?

Phuket News

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

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

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