Sunrise Divers - Monday, 1 September 2008

Phuket Airport is Open. See you soon!

We are sure you must have noticed the news over the weekend... On Friday, a large group of protesters took over Phuket Airport as part of a wider protest against the government. We will not comment on the politics, but the occupation of the airport here in Phuket took many by surprise. Politics normally stays in Bangkok and has no effect on tourism. The airports at Krabi and Hat Yai were also occupied, effectively crippling any flights into southern Thailand.

On Friday when Jamie got home, there was all kinds of news flying around. The Bangkok protests, complete with pop singers and tear gas, were live on TV. People said the occupation of Phuket Airport would only last an afternoon and flights would start on Saturday. Jamie blogged "live" updates over the weekend:

Phuket Airport Occupation on Jamie's Phuket blog

The Phuket Wan website did a very good job at keeping the situation updated. At all times the protest was peaceful. Police did not try to clear the airport of protesters... We think Thailand is very wary of past events where police were heavy handed. So now things are handled with velvet gloves... A coup in 1996 where soldiers were given flowers by Bangkok locals, a now week long protest in Bangkok, where aside from some tear gas being fired on Friday night as people tried to take over the police HQ, there has been extreme tolerence.

Finally, after Saturday passed with no flights in or out of Phuket, news arrived around midday on Sunday that flights would resume. First flight in arrived 3:30pm, firt one out left at 4:20pm.

We know of several of our customers who have been affected by this protest, either unable to leave or unable to get here. The "backlog" should be cleared today. It seems the airport authorities are working very hard.

But we are concerned about Phuket's image. Even the PAD - the protest group who has been organising these demonstrations, even they have been split over the Phuket airport occupation. Tourists do not play politics. You should not play politics with tourists. Phuket now relies heavily on tourism. Sunrise Divers relies 100% on tourism! If you have any questions about the events of the last week, please do email us. We hope to see you soon!