While Phuket was untouched by Bangkok’s recent unrest, the resort island’s tourism and real estate sectors are back in recovery mode to win back visitors alarmed by clashes in the capitals
Phuket, as ever, exudes an atmosphere of timeless tranquility as it enters the rainy season. But this year’s low season will register a far deeper plunge than in previous years, after images of violent clashes 500 miles to the north in Bangkok dampened demand for all Thai destinations.
With 70% of the Phuket’s economy provided by tourism, if the next high season also proves a washout, the cost will be heavy. Yet many tourism and real estate professionals are already finding grounds for optimism.
Above all, Phuket – and Thailand – have had excellent preparation for the upcoming challenge, says Cyrille Hareux of Bangkok-based real estate agency Company Vauban.
‘Since I set up my company in Thailand five years ago, I have seen the country live through a succession of crises – including Sars, bird flu, swine flu, the airport blockade and the abandoned summit in Pattaya – and the one thing they have all shown is Thailand’s incredible resilience,’
says Cyrille Hareux.
In his view, Phuket will once again triumph over adversity.
Buyers at a residence likefor instance, have a host of leisure and lifestyle facilities on their doorstep, such as fashion malls, marinas, golf courses and international schools
-Cyrille Hareux, Company Vauban.
‘Phuket’s ability to recover is seen clearly in how swiftly the island bounced back from the Boxing Day tsunami – in fact, in the longer run, that crisis could be seen as having fuelled its development,’ says Cyrille Hareux.
Real estate professionals also find grounds for optimism in two key factors – the ability of Phuket to promote itself separately from Thailand, and the uniqueness of what the island can offer.
‘If you look at similar situations in the past, Bali distanced itself from Indonesia when there were bombings in Jakarta and Cebu established its separate identity during troubles in Manila,’
says Bill Barnett of C9 Hotelworks, a hotel management and consultancy firm based in Phuket.
Phuket’s emergence as an independent destination from Thailand is already well under way. As well as having its own marketing strategy, the island is now served by a growing number of direct flights from low-cost carriers.
‘From the perspective of a property investor, this independence from the mainland is very appealing,’ says Cyrille Hareux.
‘Owners from Singapore or Hong Kong, for instance, need not transit at Bangkok. And they also have the added reassurance of Phuket’s social and political stability – for historic reasons, the conflict between red shirts and yellow shirts has no relevance here.’
In his view, upscale properties on Phuket’s coast still offer a secure, attractive investment to foreign buyers – and he will be taking this continuing faith in Phuket’s real estate to the upcoming SMART expo in Hong Kong on 5-6 June
, a low-density development on the island’s east coast, is one of the properties he expects to generate most interest at the tradeshow.
Having recently been picked by the International Property Awards for a Best Architecture award, the sea-front residences will target buyers in Hong Kong on both lifestyle and investment grounds. Along with the convenience of direct flights from the territory, the property offers a spectacular situation on a coastline where future development will be limited.
, condominiums and penthouses also exemplify another advantage of Phuket that Cyrille Hareux expects to help the resort island overcome its current challenge.
‘Buyers at a residence likefor instance, have a host of leisure and lifestyle facilities on their doorstep, such as fashion malls, marinas, golf courses and international schools,’ he says.
‘Well-informed travellers and buyers will come back to Phuket because they understand its peacefulness and because the island offers a combination of natural beauty and sophisticated facilities that no other destination can match.
About Company Vauban | Company Vauban is a boutique real estate with main office in Bangkok, and representations in Hua Hin, Pattaya and Phuket that has been serving international investors in Thai property since 2006.
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