Phuket Now - What Has Changed?

22 Sep 2021

Phuket has changed. Behind the external metamorphoses lies a number of internal, profound changes that can be felt only while being here on the Andaman coast.

First, the attitude to tourism has changed radically. Earlier, during the time of the endless "pipe" pouring on the heads of local business, the streams of travelers from all over the world could be in sweet bliss and completely forget about the service. The quality of the services provided, especially in the tourist epicenters of Patong, Karon, Kata, has always left much to be desired. Indeed, why bother when today's tourists leave, and tomorrow another 50 charters will land at the international airport. The current situation has awakened a really important craving - the desire for improvement and competition. During the forced isolation, the trend to create new, outstanding places in Phuket has become truly massive.

Secondly, Phuket will never be the same again. Today we can say with confidence that the previously accustomed mass tourism in Southeast Asia has died, and is unlikely to revive in the next 10 years. On the one hand, this fact is devastating for the old model of the tourism business, and on the other hand, a new and incredible opportunity for the development of Phuket as a world resort providing services and infrastructure at a decent, competitive level. The sooner the existing players in the short-term rental segment realize this trend, the more chances they have for a bright and efficient future.

Thirdly, changes have taken place in the field of governance and digitalization. Excessive caution of government bodies, coupled with financial and administrative support from Bangkok, has made it possible to largely “digitize” visa support services, epidemiological control and other social and administrative services. On September 26, 2021, the Thai Immigration Service and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced fully digital tourist visas with a stay of up to 180 days. The new "doctrine" for the development of tourism forms a different vector of development, and in it quantity does not mean quality at all.

Fourth, the overheated real estate market is letting off steam. It is already possible to notice that, entering a steep peak, the “pyramidal” projects began to crumble. Over the past 18 months, at least 4 large projects in Phuket have been ordered to "live long". And the point here is not at all in malicious intent (although in some cases it is also in it), but rather in the short-sighted "hype" planning of new objects. It's no secret that some new developers in the past have been successful salespeople with only one (the most compelling) side of the construction business. Not surprisingly, faced with the operational management of the construction site, unexpected and unpredictable cash gaps and constantly swelling bureaucracy, not everyone was able to overcome this stage. But overcame the majority, which in itself is another profound change in the philosophy of the construction market. It is crises that temper companies, and such a strong crisis as now, Phuket did not know even during the tsunami of 2004.

Fifth, the government "left the house." The tactics of imprisonment on the sidelines proved to be ineffective. At this stage, the leadership of Phuket, with the support of the Premier of the Country personally, is implementing a slow but very consistent and confident strategy to rebuild the island. Naturally, not everyone likes this. On the one hand, there are exclamations about dragging out the processes, on the other hand, dissatisfaction from the industrial and agricultural sectors boils over, for which this covid tourism only hinders their lives. Finding a balance is probably the highest priority task for officials today.

Sixth, we are probably at the stage of the most serious changes in the field of legislation on land ownership by foreigners. First on the sidelines, and then publicly, the issue of providing an opportunity for foreigners to buy land in Thailand in full ownership was raised. The last reform of such a significant level happened in the Kingdom in 1979, when the Condominium Act was passed, which allowed foreign investors to buy apartments in full ownership. If Prayut's cabinet manages to prepare a bill that suits everyone, then his government will undoubtedly go down in history, attracting hundreds of billions of dollars of investment to the crisis economy.

The end of this year and the entire next 2022 will be borderline stages. The current restrictions will remain in place with minor relief. Companies with client-oriented management in Phuket will work to expand the range of services, relieving their guests of bureaucracy and contributing to the most comfortable visit to the island. And if you miss Phuket, then it's time to plan a trip and find this heavenly place in the form in which it is now.

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