Kamala Road Blockade Mars Phuket's Tourism Image
The Wednesday blockade of a main highway link on the coastal road running from north to south has again impacted tourists visiting the island. A demonstration by local residents against local police resulted in a large-scale traffic tie up, which severe restricted the flow of traffic for hours. Over the past 6 months other occurrences included the labor dispute at Laguna where vehicles were unable to pass for nearly 2 days and the PAD's closure of Phuket's international airport.
With tourism and the related service industry being Phuket's number one earner; there needs to be a reality check amongst those involved who participate in these type of actions. At the end of the day, those relying on incomes from tourism are biting the hand that feeds them if these mass actions continue.
Clearly the catchall tactic evolving in any public dispute or demonstration has been the closure of vital roadways, which remain the lifeblood of an island with limited primary road access. While democratic systems allow freedom to its citizens, the same freedom of basic rights need to apply to those visitors who come and spend their hard earned money here.
The timing and momentum of these issues facing Phuket come during an unexpected and sudden transfer of the Governor; and it will be interesting to see what actions will be taken by his replacement. Clearly tourism needs to be high on the Provincial Government's agenda and a control mechanism put in place in resolving occurrences like this as and when they take place.