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Phuket hopes new government will allow more autonomy

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Tourism operators in Phuket hope to see a number of positive changes under Thailand’s new administration – not least the island’s ability to choose its own governor. The idea of Phuket having more self-governance has been touted for years. Phuket, which raises more taxes for the central government, per capita, than any other province, often complains that its value as a tax collector for the Thai government is overlooked.

According to a Bangkok Post report, local tourism operators want Phuket people to be able to choose their own governor. They say this could help create local solutions to local problems – the “taxi mafia” being an example of one such very local problem.

The Move Forward Party, which won the most parliamentary seats in Sunday’s election, has previously talked of administration reform, including allowing places other than Bangkok and Pattaya to hold governor elections.

In addition, the president of the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association says the new government must look at urgent measures to reduce the cost-of-living, including electricity bills, as well as the creation of a long-term strategy for dealing with Phuket’s environmental problems.

Suksit Suvunditkul points out that introducing carbon credits to reduce carbon emissions is one way all relevant stakeholders could participate. He adds that some issues unique to Phuket, such as the island’s so-called taxi mafia, will be difficult to fix, unless people can elect their own provincial governor, who has enough power to eradicate the problem.

“Adopting a one-size-fits-all approach might not be appropriate. Each destination has its own unique problems that centralised policies cannot fix. Phuket should have full authority in local administration because in the past, there have been a lot of lost opportunities due to inappropriate regulations.”

In addition, there are renewed calls for places like Bangla Road to be allowed to remain open after 2.00am, which proponents say would increase tourist spending. Suksit says a governor elected by the people of Phuket could enact regulations to ensure tourist safety and deal with local mafia figures.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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