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Thailand Politics and Its Impact on Us in Phuket

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With recent Thailand’s political situation making such international news, a lot of folks back home have been checking in. We are all fine, thanks to everyone for thinking of us.

As most of you know, we are down in Phuket and the vast majority of this political silliness takes place up in Bangkok, approx 1,000 miles away. So, in terms of violence or even traffic jams, there is absolutely no impact on us.

Last year’s Phuket airport blockade and the subsequent blockade of Bangkok’s airports are examples of the relatively rare kind of political protest that could have direct impact on us. In fact, I did get caught up in the Phuket airport closure on my way back from NY. That was no fun.

But except for those rare instances, there is never any direct impact of this political stuff. In that sense, it is easy to draw the conclusion that Thai politics is irrelevant to us.

Of course, that would not be true. Government policies obviously have macro-economic consequences which then manifest in genuine downstream effects.

More significant, however, is the impact all this apparent instability has on the confidence of tourists and investors. Political protests usually generate warning notices from foreign embassies and consulates to their citizens. Political violence can generate “avoid travel” warnings which severely impact on tourist arrivals.

All of this undermines confidence: confidence in safety, confidence in stability, confidence in planning (return on specific flights to be back at work at a specific time).

On the tourist side, it also undermines the “brand”, the image of Thailand as the proverbial “Land of Smiles”. Tough to maintain an image of a laid-back, tropical paradise for a beach vacation when the image on the news is burning tire fires and armored personnel carriers in the streets.

Also, a lot of the business ijn Phuket over the last few years has been driven by property. The global property sector has taken a significant hit as a result of macro circumstances external to Thailand’s own political situation. But a loss of confidence and a stain on the brand also drags heavily on the local property sector, which then has downstream multiplier effects.

So, the summary. We are all fine. All this political stuff is far away in Bangkok and none of it impacts us directly. There are no troops in our homes, there is no fear of totalitarian oppression, no concern in the slightest about getting caught up violence, instability, or civil war. None of that stuff remotely applies.

But make no mistake: For every hit taken by “confidence” in Thailand plunges and by Thailand’s “image” as a desirable place to vacation and/or invest, there are indirect economic consequences that are very real. We are definitely feeling them in a direct and personal way.

And again, thanks for everyonefor checking in with us.