First, Ms Kanokkittika drawing on statistics of international arrivals numbers at Phuket airport for Dec 1-15, a period ending only three days earlier, must have raised some eyebrows. They have to be the fastest-cited tourism statistics ever. The Ministry of Tourism & Sports as of Tuesday still had yet to post arrivals statistics for November.
And coming to her support was Sarayut Mallum, a man who has never backed away from blasting the government in matters affecting Phuket’s tourism industry.
We are not discounting the assessment by Weerawit Kreuasombat, President of the Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA), which represents some 500 entertainment businesses in Phuket’s busiest tourism party town, of the “massive impact” of the fall in the number of tourists in Patong. “It is the worst high season in Patong in 10 years,” he said plainly.
The Phuket News had received many of the same reports before we sourced that quote, and we don’t doubt that many businesses in Patong are suffering greatly. The question is: ‘Exactly which businesses are suffering, and why?’
Much suspicion lends itself to the huge shift in the demographics in the visitors coming to Phuket, and more specifically to Patong.
After decades of barfly-cum-party hard males descending on Patong for wanton relief, the town has seen a shift to more families arriving, and now that factor is coupled with increasing numbers of tourists from countries that simply don’t go for that form of entertainment, or even for relaxing in bars. Hence the proliferation of food establishments and more mainstream live music venues along Bangla Rd in recent years.
Maybe Patong’s days as a “party capital” are finally drawing to a close. Discounting the sordid and criminal aspects of the town, that would be a pity. Having a fun place to go for a holiday – or even for a weekend staycation – and have your relaxing beaches and natural surroundings nearby is what everyone strives for.
But let’s face it, we never wanted to be a second Pattaya anyway.