I hope the new minister for tourism will run and consider the numbers and benefits instead of just focusing on volume. The strong baht is not the problem.
Singapore proved that if you build top-class facilities you don’t need volume. Singapore makes more money than Thailand from tourism with far fewer tourists, because they built world-class facilities, provided a safe, clean environment and the big spenders came and still do. Thailand instead focuses on low-cost package tourists who just end up straining infrastructure and give little back to the local economy. Numbers are not the solution.
Phuket is a perfect example of a wasted opportunity. The airport is a disaster, the convention centre never materialised, traffic is chaotic. Many places lack town water, sewerage is discharged anywhere. Phuket city should be heritage listed like Penang. The streets are dirty with rubbish just left everywhere. And how about the local authorities staging a clean up Phuket day?
In general, this gem, this once pristine place, is being used and destroyed by low-value tourism.
The minister worries about the strong baht. That is not the problem. It is the ignorance and lack of centralised planning that will kill tourism in Thailand – and Phuket is a perfect example of how to destroy an industry.
Phuket could become one of the world’s premier conference and cruise centres, especially now that Myanmar’s islands are accessible. Please minister, accept that the strong baht is not your problem. Big spenders will not be concerned.