One of the first things I mention when talking to people about Koh Phangan is that I think the lack of an airport there is a massive plus point for the island because I feel it has helped it keep it’s natural charm intact over the years.
But that’s a pretty selfish point of view as I’m not a local and I don’t live there or run a business there. With the airport currently due to be opened in late 2014 I thought I’d have a think about it in a bit more depth, starting with the negative points as I see them.
Noise. The whole point of a paradise island (in my opinion) is that it’s quiet. Adding an airport on Koh Phangan will mean that there is a lot more noise pollution in the area, especially around the serene beaches on the north and eastern coast. It will most likely be heard all around the island though, as it’s not particularly large.
Overcrowding. One of my favourite times to visit Koh Phangan is when the Full Moon Party is not happening. This is because I find it too busy and crowded at that time. Will the addition of an airport and the ease of access this will bring mean that it starts to pack out much more during these ‘down times’? That would be a shame although the counter argument to this would be more revenue for local businesses (see below).
The Samui effect. Koh Samui was probably a very different place back in the days before it had an airport. I’d hate to think of Koh Phangan turning into a mini Benidorm with lots of high-rise hotels and shopping centres being built there in future.. that’s a horrible thought!
Increased income for local people & businesses. This is the biggest plus point for me. An airport will bring more people to the island which means greater opportunities for those who inhabit the island to earn more income. As a result the economy of the island would likely be improved and more businesses could both survive and thrive.
Ease of access for emergencies. What if you lived on the island (or were visiting) and needed emergency treatment after an accident? What if you needed to drop everything and be with a loved one elsewhere in Thailand or the world? The presence of an airport would save you a few precious hours in times of need as you wouldn’t have to catch a boat to Samui and a taxi to the airport there before catching your flight.
Pollution. Would an aeroplane really pollute the environment of Surat Thani any more than the boats which pump out tons of black fumes on each journey to and from the island? I’m no expert on pollution but I think this is a bit of a weak argument for this reason (either for or against). Sure, if you could get to the island by electric powered train then this would be a factor as adding aeroplanes into the mix would definitely increase pollution levels.
I’m glad I thought about this a bit more as it’s made me see things from a few different viewpoints. There’s a website devoted to the airport here which you can get lots more information from.
Do you have an opinion on the matter?
post image by flickr