Island tour

Review of Phuket: The misguided visit

PHUKET: The delegation of representatives from the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) spoke well of Phuket following their “inspection” of the island this week to assess whether Phuket should be selected to host the specialized World Expo 2028. The only problem is that they got the full VIP treatment, instead of what the average traveler should expect to experience.

the BIE delegation is welcomed at the Phuket Thai Hua museum. Photo: PR Phuket

Phuket officials activated the spell and literally guided the delegation to see everything they wanted them to see, including tours around Phuket Town and visits to fully scripted local locations to entertain the delegation and even a turtle release event in Nai Yang presented as organized. in honor of Her Majesty’s 70th birthday.

What the delegation could not see were areas of the island that were not specially cleaned before their arrival or anywhere else that could show what parts of the island actually look like.

The official itinerary did not include a trip to Patong or even the “performing arts hub” that is Bangla Rd, even though Patong Mayor Chalermsak Maneesri has made serious efforts to clean up the city in the hope to attract more tourists. Serious sewage treatment plant expansion is still underway, unlike other areas along the coast. Surely the BIE knows what happens to most of the sewage on the island?

The omission is an oddity since Patong is still home to the most number of guesthouses on the island. The delegation was allowed a tour on PKCD’s “Smart Bus”, but not tours of the main tourist areas along the west coast, again an oddity as this is where most of the hotels are located and tourist complexes where the announced 7 million tourists will be. stay.

On that note, the only explanation officials could have given to answer the public transport question are the two mega-projects already planned to go ahead: the light rail that will take people from the top of the island to Phuket Town and up to Chalong. , and the Muang Mai-Koh Kaew-Kathu highway in the center of the island.

“I can only say positive things about the quality of the presentations, about the quality of the responses we received. Any doubts we had, I believe, have been dispelled,” said IBE Secretary General Dimitri S Kerkentzes.

The BIE may have more questions later, but as things stand, with no public transport along the west coast – again, where most visitors will be staying – the BIE is happy that if Phuket is hosting the ‘Expo 2028, the event will further strengthen the monopoly taxi cartels already have to transport visitors to and from the planned Expo site in Mai Khao and the hotels where visitors will be staying. Without real public transport along the West Coast, the only competition the taxi cartels will have will be, as it is now, from independent drivers responding to ride-sharing applications.

Nor was it mentioned that with the planning for the bid to host the Expo from March 20 to June 17, 2028, the closing month of the event will be at the start of the “drowning season” of the island, when the southwest monsoon returns, bringing deadly tears to Phuket Beaches.

These are just some of the main concerns that should have been raised and addressed during the delegation’s “inspection” tour.

This is not to minimize what delegation has been shown. Phuket really has a lot to offer visitors. And while it’s unclear how much can be made from the mega budgets to be approved if Phuket wins the bidding, the prospect of Phuket hosting Expo 2028 is a real opportunity to bring about positive and lasting change to the world. ‘island.

“There is still a lot of work ahead of us for the fact-finding mission to gather the final details of this report for submission to the Executive Committee in October, before any final approval can come at the November General Assembly” , said Mr. Kerkentzes noted.

We hope.