By Harry Usher, the AustCham Thailand coordinator for Phuket and a Director of Lady Pie Phuket
Phuket continues to grow economically as a cosmopolitan centre for residents (both foreign and Thai), business, and tourists. Several new hotels have been built to cater for the increased tourist
demand and many of the more unsightly parts of Patong, the main tourist venue on the west coast, have been converted to boutique hotels, and plazas with modern shops and restaurants. Phuket Town continues to be the cultural centre, and while retaining its original Sino Portuguese character, has many new cafes and restaurants. The Chinese continue to visit the island in large numbers, as do Russians.
Central Festival group are opening a new and modern retail shopping centre in early 2018, which will be followed in 2019 by another one by the Siam Paragon group. Also, several new theme parks are either now operational or close to completion.
To cater for this growth the government are completing four new road junction underpasses and widening other roads to improve the traffic flow around the island. Now a light railway system is being considered. A new water catchment dam in Chalong is operational, and in some areas electric cables are being installed underground. The new International Airport is now fully operational providing access to and from all global destinations.
Phuket is also growing as a sporting destination covering most sports. Sailing wise Phuket hosts four international sailing regattas and with it’s five marinas, and four additional haul out yards, can cater for the requirements of private and commercial boats of all shapes and sizes. Thanyapura, with it’s world class sport training facilities, continues to attract international swimmers and athletes and is soon to host sports camps for international schools throughout South East Asia. International triathlons, Ironman competitions, and marathons have become regular events, and there are a growing number of local running and cycling events. International rugby, soccer and cricket competitions are always well attended. The five golf courses continue to be busy.
The three main international schools continue to attract students from all parts of the world, and at the other end of the scale a five star retirement village in Kamala will be ready by 2020.
Overall the Outlook is looking good!