View Full Version : Takes Off Too Fast in Future Phuket Thailand

Kanok Karn
19th February 2012, 06:32
People wishing to fly to Phuket from Bangkok, even if they are VIPs, are having to book a seat at least a week in advance.

Stranded Australian passengers struggling to find alternative routes home because of Air Australia's grounding are competing with regular tourists and passengers for space on overbooked flights.

The Phuket airport, built for a maximum of 6.5 million passengers, reached 8.4 million in 2011. A new airport terminal is supposed to help Phuket cater for 12.5 million passengers by mid 2015.

figure will be exceeded long before then. Planning has failed to keep pace with Phuket's popularity. As a destination, it is jumping before it has learned to crawl or walk.

Phuket International Airport catered for 23,000 passengers arriving and departing in January 2011, and with a remarkable 32,000 passengers a day in January 2012.

The carrying crisis at Phuket International Airport means disasters such as the stranding of thousands of passengers merely intensify the crush.

Thailand needs the revenue from tourism and a cap on Phuket traffic at a time when Phuket has never been more popular would be wasteful.

But the crush is also bringing to a head other issues centring on lack of infrastructure, privatisation of beaches, lack of public transport, the thuggery of local taxi and tuk-tuk drivers and greed and corruption.

It is to be hoped the Cabinet focusses on the problems and does not just deliver handouts.

Phuket International Airport is the Phuket region's most important piece of infrastructure but forward planners have failed to grasp future Phuket's tourism needs.

It would be a huge mistake to deliver funding for infrastructure projects without addressing the underbelly issue that are so often overlooked at great cost to the future of Phuket and its people.

Phuket will seek improvements to hospitals and confirmation of funding for a light rail from Phuket International Airport to Chalong in southern Phuket, plus the Patong Hill tunnel.

Immediate funding would also be sought for two key Phuket City intersection underpasses or overpasses, the governor told the meeting at Provincial Hall in Phuket City.

Senior representatives from Phang Nga, Krabi, Ranong and Trang were also at the gathering, along with Pheu Thai Party spokesman Phrompong Nopparit, the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Tourism, Senator Tunyaratt Achariyachai, and top provincial officials.

An extension into the sea of the Phuket airport runway is likely to be considered, despite environmental concerns.

So is Phuket's water supply, which is often insufficient for the dry months because not enough is trapped in catchment areas during the wet monsoon season.

Phang Nga will be seeking a 200-kilometre four-lane highway link to Chumpon, plus an extension of existing railway lines to the Sarasin Bridge that links Phang Nga with Phuket.

With the crush at Phuket International Airport, this alternative is likely to be given high priority.

Phang Nga also hopes for a Prince of Songkhla University. Krabi aims to set up an international university to cater for tourism, while Trang will seek an airport expansion and an enlargement of the Pangmang Pier.

What the Phuket and Andaman region needs most is a forward-looking strategy that delivers timely planning for the next 20 years, keeps the beaches and coral reefs in perfect condition, provides hospitality and service to international standards, and wipes out corruption and greed.