Is Phuket Having a Rocky Tourism Season?
A small recap of everything that’s happened so far proves one of two things: the newspapers in Phuket focus on the negative stuff, or, Phuket is generally having a tough tourism season so far this year. In May, the mysterious deaths of two female tourists in Koh Phi Phi were discovered, and later on in June, were dismissed; autopsies revealed no traces of how they were killed. In early June, there were worries of how the Swine Flu epidemic would interfere with the tourism industry in Phuket, a major portion of the economy in the area. Around the same time, a public uproar rose to a peak over the stench of a landfill nearby to Saphan Hin; business owners especially are affected by the smell, and have brought formal complaints to the local government.
Later in June, shortly after the “big cleanup” ordered by the local government, the number of cases of Swine Flu passed the 200 mark. Only a few days later, citizens in Chalong rallied against the local police, for neglecting their duties, and allowing the surge of crime that plagues the area. There’s continued coverage of Swine Flu in Phuket, and right after the newspaper covers the newly appointed lifeguards on the Phuket beaches, they next reported monsoon conditions that are making the area’s waters too rough for boating, and recreation. At the end of the month, an Indian restaurant, a tailor shop and a pharmacy were burned down on Phuket Beach Rd, marking the end of a long month full of problems.
July brought more coverage of drowning victims, crime, and inclement weather, as well as the swine flu epidemic. The popular area known as the Ban Hin Look Diow sea gypsy community was struck by disaster in early July; after only recently having fully recovered from a tsunami five years ago, almost a hundred homes burned to the ground after a small fire spread to surrounding homes. Eighty-five men, women, and children lost their homes. After reporting the first swine flu death, there follows news on the Jakarta hotel bombings, though the Phuket governor claims that he’s doing everything in his power to keep security tight, it’s still a depressing piece. Bomb scares, crime reports, and even a landslide caused by heavy rains close out the month of July. We can only hope the fall season fares better!