Anti-Russian Protest Shows Ugly Side Of Phuket
Yesterdays staged demonstration in Bangtao beach which railed against Russian businesses and tourists was a dark reminder of how quickly Thailand can roll up its welcome mat.
Much of the sensationalism of the event underscored how a few opportunists mainly from the transportation sector can use the race wild card to garner xenophobia.
Mass tourism remains an infant terrible, a beast that must continue to be fed back of an insatiable appetite for more growth.
Issues are inevitably going to arise whenever one geographic segment starts to dominate any given marketplace and become highly visible. At that point the stereotyping kicks in.
Much of the local envy-led backlash is coming from the illegal taxi operators who believe they are losing out business to the tour groups with pre-arranged transport. In reality this is driving much of the situation.
What's very clear is that corruption and greed is a far greater issue at the present time to Phuket than any single influx of tourists from any given nationality.
Last week's shooting of Jintana Mahattanapak, who was the Head of Human Resources at the Hilton hotel in Karon is alleged to have possibly been over the dismissal staff who were stealing.
A resounding message of "dare to discipline" is the unfortunate message to the industry, where again theft and corruption continue to exist on the soft white underbelly.
Tourism is premised as welcoming hospitality. A smiling face. It goes beyond borders, culture and religion. Racism should play no part in what is the face of Brand Phuket. It's purely and simply unacceptable.