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Phuket Open for Business

This IS NOT Bangkok's Main International Airport

This IS NOT Bangkok's Main International Airport - Source Standard.net

You will have no doubt seen the recent news coverage of the terrible flooding in Bangkok and in Central and Northern parts of Thailand.

This has certainly been a hot topic on Phuket related social media sites and  it seems that many of you who have already booked your holiday to Phuket, or are planning a holiday in Phuket, are very worried about whether it is safe for you to travel to Thailand.

If you are currently faced with this predicament, then I would like to put your mind at ease straight away and say that Phuket is completely unaffected by the floods and if you are planning to travel to Phuket via Bangkok, then Suvarnabhumi International Airport is also completely unaffected and has been operating as normal since the flooding crisis began.

As the flood waters finally begin to subside, the tourism industry across Thailand  is counting the costs of this devastation. It is vital now that tourists and people planning to travel to the kingdom gain a renewed confidence in Thailand as a world class, safe tourist destination and help the industry recover after another key season is disrupted by extraneous circumstances.

If you are still concerned whether it is safe to travel to Phuket or not, then I urge you to consider this before making any changes to your plans. The distance between the affected areas and Phuket is approx 800 km. That is roughly the same distance as between Paris and Barcelona and Im sure it wouldn’t cross your mind to cancel a holiday in one city if trouble flared up in the other.

If Phuket was completely unaffected by the flooding, then why wasn’t this message communicated effectively to a global audience you may ask? Well, the reason for this is that a great many factors contributed to the confusion surrounding which areas of Thailand were actually affected as the floods waters began to surge. These included: “the scale, severity, size and speed of the unfolding crisis “; inadequate flood prevention measures that couldn’t cope with the water run off; the response time of a new Thai Government still hungover from the recent elections triumph and the inevitable sensationalized news reporting and ensuing over zealous world government travel warnings.

The fact remains that while misinformation was being widely reported around the world and as governments rolled out their blanket travel advisories, Phuket remained completely open for business as usual throughout the entire crisis.

Surin Beach Phuket, Thailand - Nov 2011

Surin Beach Phuket, Thailand at the height of the floods in Central and Northern Thailand - Nov 2011

There was clearly a dramatic failure by all parties concerned to get reliable, factual and geographically based information out to a global audience. Had communications been handled more effectively then is likely that the negative impact on tourism could have been contained. This current crisis has provided many notable case studies of a total failure of communication.

A number of Chinese Airlines made the ill-informed decision back in early November to cancel all flights into Bangkok, after mistakingly assuming both airports in Bangkok were flooded. I find it remarkable that key decision makers hadn’t been informed that Bangkok’s Main International ‘Suvarnabhumi’ Airport was completely unaffected by the floods.

They, like the rest of the world, will have seen sensationalized images like those of a flooded Don Muang Airport (see above top) played on a continuous 24 hours news loop with the caption ‘Bangkok Airport Closed’, without any real attempt to distinguish the facts. Bangkok and by default Thailand was off limits.

Tourists, it seems, have followed suit, with reports stating that Suvarnabhumi Airport has seen a 25% drop in the number of tourist arrivals in November against last year, despite the airport continuing to operate as normal throughout the whole flooding crisis.

So, while it is understandable that tourists are concerned about travel to Thailand, please rest assured that Phuket is very much open for business and aside from the affects of lower than expected tourist arrivals, remains completely unaffected by the flooding crisis.

In an age of social media and real time communications, there is surely the propensity for all stakeholders to communicate efficiently and effectively and to strive to compartmentalize a crisis to only the affected areas therefore minimising any further damage to a country in crisis.

To check out the latest Tourism Situation in Thailand you can visit www.thailandtourismupdate.com or if you are travelling to Phuket you can post questions or concerns on these popular Phuket Facebook Pages

Has media reporting of the flooding crisis and government issued travels warnings made you think twice about visiting Thailand? 

Roger Gibson
Marketing & Communications Manager
Thavorn Hotels & Resorts (THR) Phuket, Thailand
Roger Gibson

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