Nearly two years after the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami, experts suggest that tourism in Phuket is ready to boom once again.
The Sumatra-Andaman earthquake on December 26th 2004 sent a number of mighty tsunamis roaring through the Indian Ocean, killing hundreds of thousands of people in south and south-east Asia, including many in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Thailand.
Around 10,000 individuals perished in Thailand alone and the country along with its provinces was left economically crippled.
Phuket, the biggest island in Thailand, suffered considerable damage to all of its popular beaches on the west coast and many of its resorts were left to cope with major clean-up operations.
But visitors have been reporting for some time that the island has been making remarkable progress, with very few areas still showing evidence of the tsunami.
According to the Kasikorn Research Center, just 2.51 million people visited Phuket in 2005, in comparison to 4.79 million in 2004. Of these, just 1.32 million were foreign tourists, compared with 3.5 million in the previous year. Tourism income fell by 67 per cent as a direct result of the tsunami but there is evidence now that visitors are once again flocking to one of the most breathtaking islands on the planet.
It is thought that by the end of the year, 4.7 million travellers will have visited the mountainous island, with 3.3 million of these arriving from overseas. While this is still shy of 2004's total, it suggests that tourism in Phuket is well on the way to complete recovery.
Boasting some of the world's most spectacular beaches, five beautiful golf courses and enough excursions to keep you occupied for a lifetime, Phuket has almost everything anybody could hope for from a holiday. The 2004 tsunami threatened to leave the island in dire straits for a number of years, but there are signs that tourism in Phuket is already big business again.
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