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Further Reading:

New Directions for Kamala

I recently read in the Bangkok Post about the plans for Safari World in Kamala. Will this drive property prices up, or will it drive them down?

Upon first reading the article publicly announcing the finalization of plans for the Safari World development in Phuket, two thoughts passed through my mind in fairly rapid succession. The first was that, a major tourist development such as Safari World’s proposed evening entertainment theme park, would undoubtedly bring thousands of additional tourists to Kamala, and is bound to have a positive impact (commercially speaking at least) on that beautiful and unspoiled beach side. My second thought was that the novelty of the proposed "mock naval battles" in the bay that were reported to be scheduled as a nightly feature in the bay, would soon wear off for the owners of the prime beach front and ocean view homes on the south end of the bay.

Evidence of the first of these thoughts is already apparent in the thinking of many Kamala’s would be property sellers, and I have heard of a number of pending deals that have now fallen through because of unwarranted price hikes.

On further consideration of the question, however, I feel that neither of my initial thoughts will prove to be entirely correct. Significant construction has yet to take place on the project (which has been widely rumored for at least six years) leaving plenty of room for project revisions . Final operation details also remain well in the future. On the assumption, that the project will proceed, I would predict that Safari World will be doing it’s very best to keep the project as "integrated" as possible and that they will not be in the business of making their shows available free of charge to the public.

And Safari World will not wish to let too much of their visitors potential spending slip into the hands of external vendors (restaurants, gift shops etc.) The project is likely to be fully contained with a secure perimeter fence. The preferred tourist will arrive on a coach at an internal car park - be taken to the various shows and along the way have every potential spending opportunity their marketing people can devise, thrust before them - and then, put back on the coach straight to their hotels.

A look at the environs of the Safari World in Bangkok (which has a total absence of trickle down businesses) confirms this view. Consequently the only spin off trade for Kamala village is likely to come from tourists with independent means of transport, and who have managed to resist the temptation on offer within the Safari World Complex. These people will undoubtedly improve business and consequently property prices in Kamala, but probably not to the extent that the initial reactions would predict.

As to the residential property values along the prime south shore of Kamala bay, I feel that with their position well off the main road they will not be unduly aware of the increased vehicle traffic and that the mock battles in the bay may well be little more that a marketing ploy.

For any of you who have visited Kanchanaburi and been lured to Son et Lumiere re-enactments of the battle of the Bridge of the River Kwai, and expected to see the destruction of the real McCoy, but been palmed off with a mocked up bridge and river in a garden setting replete with "traditional artisans" (who just happen to be selling their wares) - don’t expect Safari World to put on shows that could be enjoyed (without a ticket) from the several kilometers of public beach and road that surround the bay.

All in all, while it is clear that Kamala (helped by the recently opened new road) will now find it’s way firmly onto the tourist map, I believe that the potential impacts of Siam World on commercial and residential property values in Kamala will be much less than bull and bear now predict. On a final note, I would add that with the limited range of evening entertainment currently on offer in Phuket, (and subsequent to the official announcement that certain less savory elements of the night life, no longer exist in Phuket) the future for Safari World looks rosy.